Twitter’s 6th Birthday: A look back

Chloe Hamilton

twitter logo 300x300 Twitter’s 6th Birthday: A look backAs Twitter celebrates its sixth birthday, it might be time to reflect on what an incredible journey the company has come on since its conception in 2006.

What started as a small SMS service has evolved into a website used by over 500 million users across the globe. The website provides an equal platform for celebrities, politicians and Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs. If you can squeeze a musing into 140 characters, you’re welcome on Twitter. Whether you use it to follow celebrities, to promote your own opinions, or simply to share your views on the weather, Twitter has grown up to be more than just Facebook annoying little sister.

In celebration of Twitter’s birthday, here is some Twitter Trivia (Twivia? No?), followed by some landmark events in Twitter’s six year history. Happy Birthday Twitter, here’s to the next six years!

1)      Originally it was rumoured that Twitter’s 140 character limit was based on cab drivers’ messages to each other, because co-founder Jack Dorsey was a big fan of taxis. However, the truth is that Twitter was originally intended as an SMS service and 140 characters is the restriction on text messages.

2)      Twitter was originally called Twttr, a nod to the character restrictions of SMS messaging.

3)      The team eventually chose the name ‘Twitter’, as in ‘chirps from birds’. This was supposed to represent ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’.

4)      The first tweet was from co-founder Jack Dorsey on March 21, 2006. It said, ‘Just setting up my Twttr.’

5)      Twitter had made $0 in revenue after the first three years.

6)      Twitter only had eight employers in 2009. Now it has 900+.

7)      It took three years, two months and one day to get from Dorsey’s tweet in March 2006 to the billionth tweet. Now it only takes one week for users to send one billion tweets.

8)      Twitter’s bird logo is named Larry the Bird after Larry Bird of the NBA’s Boston Celtics.

9)      The death of Osama Bin Laden caused the most Tweets to date. There were 27.9 million tweets in just two hours and 35 minutes, while Obama made his speech. That works out as 4000 tweets per second throughout the speech.

10)    Lady Gaga was the first Twitter account to reach 10 million.

Landmark events for Twitter

1)      Turning point: Twitter’s popularity rocketed after the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive conference. The website was promoted by speakers, panellists and bloggers. The reaction to the site was very positive and usage increased from 20, 000 Tweets per day, to 60, 000 tweets per day.

2)      The Twitter Joke Trial: Twitter was in the news after Paul Chambers tweeted that he planned to blow up Robin Hood Airport because of delays. The tweet, intended as a joke, led to Chambers being arrested by anti-terror police at his office. After being found guilty, Chambers was fined £385, had to pay £600 costs and lost his job. There was a surge of online support for Paul. Users took to Twitter and reposted the ‘offensive’ tweet, followed by the hashtag ‘#iamspartacus’ in reference to the 1960 film Spartacus. Paul also won support from various celebrities, including Stephen Fry and Al Murray. The conviction was overturned in July 2012, after the court ruled that the tweet did not include a message of a menacing nature.

3)      London Riots: During the 2011 London riots, Twitter was used as a way of reporting the events as they happened. Journalists and members of the public in areas such as Tottenham, Brixton and Croydon updated people on what was going on in London using the social media site. The website provided a unique opportunity for users to watch the events unfold from the perspective of those who were there.

4)      2011 Egyptian revolution: Twitter has also been used to gather support for revolutions across the world, with one key example being the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Twitter has changed the way we communicate, making it easier to gather support for a cause. As a result, revolutions can be lead from a laptop.

5)      Twitter Trolls: Racism on Twitter has led to fierce debate over freedom of speech online. One example is the conviction of Swansea University student, Liam Stacey. Stacey was jailed for 56 days after posting racist remarks regarding Fabrice Muamba on his Twitter page. Another user was arrested recently for abusive messages sent to Olympic diver, Tom Daley.  The messages were perceived to breach the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

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  • FergalFury

    Yes and Guy Adams was banned then unbanned. Twitter may be a platform for democracy but it is also one for loons and all manner of far right cranks. Louise Mensch called for it’s banning in the August 2011 Uprising, proof of it’s value.

  • Andrew Grill

    Actually the SMS limit is 160 characters. Twitter’s limit assumes a 10 character @ name and some other system characters – allowing a 140 character tweet to be carried in a standard 160 character sms.

  • Ryan Peter Bushell

    Very interesting. I recently closed my facebook account and now only use twitter. It got to a point where I was sick of baby photos and gossip. Social media interests me again. Long may it continue.

  • Paul Odtaa

    Mensch got it completely wrong.

    Most of the Uprising communications were on Blackberry messenger services. The reason being that Blackberry is the cheapest phone to run – not that its services are encrypted -though that helped.

    Manchester Police, who were highly praised during the riots used Twitter to inform the general public what was going on and managed to damp down some situations by sending messages to certain individuals warning that they were being monitored.

  • FergalFury

    I never got one.

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