CENIT Social Media

Commercial? Yes
Type of site Micro-blogging
Registration Required
Available language(s) English, Japanese
Owner Twitter, Inc.
Created by Obvious[1]
Launched July 13, 2006

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter web site, via the Twitter web site, short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.

Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. For SMS, four gateway numbers are currently available: short codes for the United States, Canada, and India, as well as a United Kingdom number for international use. Several third parties offer posting and receiving updates via email.

In April 2008, Twitter was used by graduate student James Karl Buck, who was covering an anti-government protest, to alert friends of his arrest in Egypt. With only one word, "Arrested," colleagues became aware of his status and were able to free him from jail.[2]



Twitter began as a research and development project inside San Francisco start-up company Obvious, LLC in March 2006. It was initially used internally by the company, and officially launched in October 2006.[3]

The service rapidly gained popularity and in March 2007 won the 2007 South by Southwest Web Award in the blog category.[4] Jack Dorsey, widely acknowledged as the man behind the concept of Twitter, gave the following playful acceptance speech at SXSW: "We'd like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!"

In April 2007, Obvious, LLC spun off the service as a separate entity under the name Twitter, Inc.,[5] with Jack Dorsey as its CEO.

Prominent users

  • Many organizations have embraced the technology, including the Los Angeles Fire Department who put it to use in situations such as the October 2007 California wildfires.[6]
  • Higher education is also using the technology to relay important information to students in a more timely manner. Such is the case with The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Engineering.[7]
  • Several U.S. presidential campaigns use Twitter as a publicity mechanism, including those of Ron Paul,[8] John Edwards,[9] Barack Obama,[10] and Hillary Clinton.[11]
  • Media outlets such as CNN have also started using Twitter to break news.[12]
  • Editor-at-Large of Star magazine, Julia Allison, maintains a Twitter account.[13]
  • Most people connected to TWIT, or MacBreak use it. (Usually referred to as the twitter)
  • Oscar winning screenwriter, Diablo Cody has a Twitter account and updates it frequently
  • Kevin Rose, founder of Digg and Revision3
  • The Phoenix Mars Lander, care of the News Services Manager at NASA[14]

Availability in other languages

On April 22, 2008 Twitter announced on their blog that they recently created a version of Twitter for Japanese users, due to the reason that [they] are prominent users of the service, despite being a completely English interface.[15] One week after its launch, it has been reported that the Japanese version of Twitter has started gaining traction.[16] Unlike the US service, the Japanese service is advertising supported. Twitter users in Japan have embraced the advertising in a way that is hard to imagine in the US, according to the person who launched Twitter in Japan.[17]

Similar services

A number of services exist with a similar concept but adding country-specific services (e.g., frazr) or combining the micro-blogging facilities with other services, such as filesharing (e.g., Pownce, Jaiku). Most of these have emerged due to Twitter's success.

In May 2007, one source counted as many as 111 such "Twitter look-alikes" internationally.[18] Despite Twitter efforts to localize, Chinese-language Twitter clones have far outstripped Twitter's own progress in China.[19]


In 2007, Twitter began experiencing numerous challenges related to its growing user base. The Wall Street Journal wrote, "These social-networking services elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel 'too' connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they're having for dinner."[20] The Industry Standard has pointed to its lack of revenue as limiting its long-term viability.[21]


The first Twitter security vulnerability was reported on April 7, 2007 by Nitesh Dhanjani. The problem was due to Twitter using the SMS message originator as the authentication of the user's account. Nitesh used to spoof a text message, whereupon Twitter posted the message on the victim's page. This vulnerability can only be used if the victim's phone number is known.[22] Within a few weeks of this discovery, Twitter introduced an optional PIN that its users can specify to authenticate SMS-originating messages.


Twitter is written in Ruby on Rails.[23] The Twitter API itself allows the integration of Twitter with other web services and applications.[24]

In late April 2008, some sources reported that due to downtime related to scaling problems, Twitter would abandon Ruby on Rails as their web framework and start from scratch with PHP or Java.[25] However, this was soon debunked by Evan Williams, in a Tweet that he sent on May 1 2008.[26]

Twitter achieved approximately 98% uptime in 2007, or about 3 full days of downtime.[27][28] Twitter's downtime was particularly noticeable during events popular with the technology industry, such as the 2008 Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address.[29][30]

During May 2008 Twitter's new engineering team implemented neccessary architectual changes to deal with the scale of growth. Stability issues resulted in down time or temporary feature removal.

Social justice implications

Twitter is being used in creative and important ways as a social justice tool to connect groups of people in critical situations. On April 10 2008, UC Berkeley graduate journalism student James Karl Buck and his translator, Mohammed Maree were arrested in Egypt for photographing a local anti-government protest. On his way to the police station, Buck used his mobile phone to twitter the message “Arrested” to his 48 followers who contacted the UC Berkeley, the US Embassy and a number of press organizations on his behalf. While being detained Buck was able to send updates about his condition to his followers. As a result of the message and the efforts of his Twitter friends, he was released the next day from the Mahalla jail after the college hired a lawyer for him.[31][32] Research published in New Scientist magazine in May 2008 found that blogs, maps, photo sites and instant messaging systems like Twitter did a better job of getting information out during emergencies such as the shootings at Virginia Tech than either the traditional news media or government emergency services. The study -- done by researchers at the University of Colorado also found that during the fires in California in October 2007, those using Twitter kept their followers, who were often friends and neighbors, informed of their whereabouts and of the location of various fires on a minute by minute basis. Additionally, organizations that support relief efforts are also using Twitter. The American Red Cross uses Twitter ( to exchange minute-to-minute information about local disasters, including statistics and directions.[33][34]

See also


  1. ^ About Us. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  2. ^ [1], " Student 'Twitters' his way out of Egyptian jail"
  3. ^ Williams, Evan (2007-04-16). Twitter, Inc.. Obvious. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  4. ^ Stone, Biz (2007-03-14). We Won!. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  5. ^ Stone, Biz (2007-04-18). Incorporating Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  6. ^ Los Angeles Fire Department (2008-05-07). Twitter / LAFD. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  7. ^ University of Texas at San Antonio College of Engineering (2008-05-07). Twitter / EngineeringUTSA. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  8. ^ Paul, Ron (2008-05-07). Twitter / RonPaul2008. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  9. ^ Edwards, John (2008-05-08). Twitter / johnedwards. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  10. ^ Obama, Barack (2008-05-07). Twitter / BarackObama. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  11. ^ Clinton, Hillary (2008-05-07). Twitter / hillaryclinton. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  12. ^ CNN (2008-05-07). Twitter / cnn. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  13. ^ McCarthy, Caroline (2007-08-03). This Week in Social Media: The Newsworthy Edition. CNET. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  14. ^ Chang, Kenneth (2008-05-31). The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-06-01.
  15. ^ Stone, Biz (2008-04-22). Twitter for Japan. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  16. ^ MacManus, Richard (2008-04-28). Early Stats Show Twitter Taking Off in Japan. ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  17. ^ Crampton, Thomas (2008-05-23). Joi Ito: Twitter makes money in Japan. Retrieved on 2008-05-23.
  18. ^ The Twitter-clone/twitter-like sites collection. THWS (2007-05-11). Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  19. ^ Crampton, Thomas (2008-05-23). Twitter in China (Cloned of Course). Retrieved on 2008-05-23.
  20. ^ Lavallee, Andrew (2007-03-16). Friends Swap Twitters, and Frustration. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  21. ^ Snyder, Bill (2008-03-31). Twitter: Fanatical users help build the brand, but not revenue. The Industry Standard. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  22. ^ Dhanjani, Nitesh (2007-04-07). Twitter and Jott Vulnerable to SMS and Caller ID Spoofing. Nitesh Dhanjani. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  23. ^ Kenzer, Josh (2007-03-29). 5 Question Interview with Twitter Developer Alex Payne. Radical Behavior. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  24. ^ API Documentation. Google Groups. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
  25. ^ Arrington, Michael (2008-05-01). Twitter Said To Be Abandoning Ruby on Rails. TechCrunch. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  26. ^ Williams, Evan (2008-05-01). FWIW Twitter has no plans to abandon RoR. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-01.
  27. ^ Caverly, Doug (2007-12-20). Twitter Downtime Revealed, Ridiculed. WebProNews. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  28. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (2007-12-20). Twitter Downtime On the Upswing. TechCrunch. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  29. ^ Dorsey, Jack (2008-01-15). MacWorld. Twitter. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  30. ^ Kuramoto, Jake (2008-01-15). MacWorld Brings Twitter to its Knees. Oracle AppsLab. Retrieved on 2008-05-07.
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^

External links