Twitter is an online micro-blogging and social networking platform that gives opportunity for users to send and receive short messages, usually up to 140 characters. The messages sent or received via tweeter are popularly known as “tweets”.
Users who are registered can post, as well as read tweets; those who are not registered can only read them. Access to twitter is via the website interface, mobile device apps or SMS. Based in San Francisco, Twitter Inc. has offices in Boston, New York, Detroit and Austin. The company was created by a group of college students in March 2006; it was launched the same year (Clark, 2012). The company rapidly became popular; by the start of 2012, it had 340 million unregistered users, posting more than 340 million tweets every day. The site also handles over 1.6 billion searches every day. By 2013, Twitter became among the top ten most visited websites. Twitter can be described as SMS over the Internet.
Twitter offers an interactive forum where people can share their thoughts and opinions about just any topic regardless of their age, gender or geographical boundaries (Clark, 2012). It helps to foster unity across the world. It makes the world a global village to users. Users find twitter convenient to discuss relationships, job openings and politics. It is a healthy platform that apart from being a favorite pastime, also serves to make the world more visible. It opens users to a world full of opportunities.
Just like any other social website, Twitter has had its share of positive and negative consequences. The positive ones include being able to communicate easily and share ideas unhindered. The negatives include the fact that it can be used to fuel animosity and hatred. There have been instances where people misuse Twitter to mislead or misguide fellow users; taint images and characters of celebrities and popular people. People’s Twitter accounts have been hacked, and their invaluable information stolen or misappropriated (Bryfonski, 2012).
Undeniably, Twitter has changed the face of communication. Every day, people can exchange pleasantries and keep posted on the lives of their loved ones. The term “trending topic” is commonly used on Twitter. Topics become popular on Twitter when individuals make concerted effort to discuss them. These topics could be centering on acceptable social behaviors, sports or politics; in fact, in most cases, they affect the members of closed groups. By discussing them, they get solutions to their own problems. Through such trends, users get to understand what is happening around them. However, some trending topics sometimes become disregarding and malicious, forcing the administration of the website to censor the hash tags, and temporarily block users from accessing their twitter accounts (Bryfonski, 2012).
When a user wants to add content or monitor their information, they could use platforms such as Telly – a video sharing platform the website offers, TweetDeck, HooteSuite, Salesforce.com and Twitterfeed. By the start of 2009, fewer people preferred using the Twitter web browser user interface. In most cases, they used third-party applications.
Twitter accounts that are verified let users know the owners of the accounts or companies that post tweets. This is a security check that serves to discourage impersonators. However, this option is only open to high ranking individuals in the society, such as politicians, celebrities and businessmen (Penenberg, 2009). It helps to protect them from impersonation. People working behind the scenes in verified Twitter accounts have access to controlled features that they can use to monitor the activities of the Twitter verified account holders.
Some of the benefits accorded to these people include:
- Choosing their notifications and special mentions; verified accounts normally have huge followers.
- Viewing their Twitter followers’ information, and filtering notices
- Ability to monitor their contributions and respond to their questions in real time
- Choosing whether they respond to them individually or in groups
At its inception, Twitter was used more by older people than a younger generation. It stems from the fact that they thought it offered a more secretive platform for sharing ideas and disseminating information as opposed to Face Book and YouTube that were mainly popular with the youths. Because of this, Twitter initially had fewer users. However, it changed in 2009 (Penenberg, 2009). The youth began embracing Twitter; the company got more profits in return. Twitter is today ranked among the best social media platforms; platforms that have revolutionized communication all over the world (Bryfonski, 2012).
As a result, businesses have taken advantage of the huge Twitter followers to advertise their goods and services. This created a win-win situation, where they saw improved sales while the company owners saw improved earnings.
Twitter uses mobile apps to boost penetration of the market and enhance its global visibility. Some of the mobile apps that Twitter supports include iPad, iPhone, Android, Firefox OS, BlackBerry, and Nokia S40. Twitter has a website version that supports mobile devices, MMS and SMS. To prevent third party applications proliferation, Twitter implements the 100,000 user limit. Currently, Twitter has over 250 million active subscribers who access Twitter multiple times a day. Without a doubt, Twitter is one of the most popular social website in the world.