Fact File: Twitter

 

Launched in 2006, the micro-blogging site Twitter quickly disproved those who dismissed it as another medium for bores to update the world on what they ate for lunch.

Harnessing the internet’s powers of live, mass communication, Twitter has broken news, launched revolutions, brought down powerful politicians and made predictions on the stock market.

As the ultimate form of unmediated communication, it also acts as a useful barometer for free speech. It might be expected that autocratic China and religious Pakistan would introduce bans on Twitter, but the UK’s Twitter joke trial sparked incredulous outrage and tested the limits of our own laws.  

Fears that Twitter’s 140-character limit heralds the end of literature have been calmed by Tweet-inspired poetry, but claims that Twitter has saved democracy should also be kept in check. As long as Justin Bieber has more followers than Barack Obama, it’s worth remaining sceptical.

The Numbers

10m – Active users of Twitter in the UK. Source: Mashable.com

340m – Average number of tweets worldwide, per day. Source: Twitter.com

$8bn – Twitter valuation as of July 2011. Source: Mediabistro.com

Further Reading

Twitter might have turned into a party with 10 million guests, but I’m still loving every minute of it, Grace Dent, The Independent, 2012

In the loop: How Twitter transformed political reporting, John Rentoul, The Independent, 2010

Friends Swap Twitters, and Frustration, Andrew Lavallee, The Wall Street Journal, 2007

Small Change: Why the revolutions will not be tweeted, Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, 2010

Infographic: The map of international diplomacy (according to Twitter), Joao Medeiros, Wired, 2011

Timeline

Nov 2009 – Twitter changes its status update question from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?”, indicating a change of focus from social networking, to news and information

Jan 2010 – In a “joke” tweet, Paul Chambers threatens to blow Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster “sky high” sparking the Twitter joke trial, and a national debate over free speech online

April 2010 – Labour candidate Stuart MacLennan is sacked for a series of offensive tweets

May 2011 – Ryan Giggs is named on Twitter as the Premier League footballer at the centre of a gagging order row.

Jan 2012 - Dianne Abbot is accused of racism after comments made on Twitter.

April 2012 – The student who posted offensive comments about footballer Fabrice Muamba is jailed for 56 days.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas