WASHINGTON: Twitter, which turns 10 years old Monday, has grown into one of the leading global social networks.
Twitter came to life on March 21, 2006, when co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet: “just setting up my twttr.” Dorsey followed up with the first “human-generated” tweet: “inviting coworkers.”
The company was incorporated in April 2007 after it stole the show at the influential South by Southwest technology and music festival in Austin, Texas. It was co-founded by Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Dorsey — @biz, @ev and @jack.
According to the Real-Time Statistics Project, some 500 million tweets are sent out each day, adding up to some 200 billion per year.
The key figure used to measure Twitter’s success is the number of its monthly active users, which has remained at 320 million for the past two quarters. Twitter says the vast majority of these — 254 million — are outside the United States.
But chief executive Dorsey says another 500 million people use Twitter without logging in, and the company has launched an effort to draw more ad revenues from those visitors.
Twitter also says one billion people each month view sites with embedded tweets, which further expands the reach of the platform.
The reigning queen of Twitter for some time has been singer Katy Perry, whose followers now number more than 84 million.
Justin Bieber ranks second with 77 million, and Taylor Swift third at 72 million. The @BarackObama account, which is run by the US president’s entourage, holds the number four spot with 71 million.
Among official public figures, the most popular after Obama is Queen Rania of Jordan with 4.6 million followers, the British prime minister’s office with 4.3 million and… the late president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela at 4.2 million, even though his account has been inactive since he died in 2013.
Among the current White House contenders, Republican Donald Trump has some seven million followers to just 944,000 for rival Ted Cruz. In the Democratic camp, Hillary Clinton has amassed 5.7 million followers to 1.7 million for rival Bernie Sanders.
Twitter is not just for journalists, activists and celebrities but has been a tool for a variety of scientific research.
Researchers have found that analyzing tweet patterns can offer insights into political leanings as well as the spread of disease.