Many people think Twitter is a waste of time and fail to understand its attraction. We put the social network under the microscope and explains how it works
Rarely has a website had such an apt name as Twitter. The social network is all about chatter and it’s seemingly talked about incessantly everywhere else. The hype can be tedious but lurking behind it, is there really a brilliant, entertaining, informative tool that you could be using?
Among the millions of trivial messages published daily, are there some that you would find interesting? If so, how would you spot them?
In this article we’ll put Twitter on trial, offering a measured assessment of what’s good and bad about it. We will explain what Twitter is, who’s using it and what for. And if you want to try tweeting, we’ll show you to how to join in and get the best from it.
What is Twitter?
Simply put, Twitter is an online service that allows users to create and read text messages of no more than 140 characters. A user’s ‘tweets’, as they’re known, are usually publicly visible on their profile web page, although it is possible to limit them to approved people or to send a private message to another user.
Twitter users see a ‘timeline’ of tweets published by themselves and the people they ‘follow’. To follow someone, you simply visit their profile page and click the ‘Follow’ button.
The service first appeared in 2006, initially as a way to communicate with a group of people using a single SMS text message. Within a year there was considerable enthusiasm for Twitter among technology and media types.
This early popularity encouraged others to join but also left many people with the impression that Twitter was an ‘in-club’ for media professionals and celebrities.
Even if this was true in its early days, Twitter has now entered the mainstream. It claimed to have 100 million active users at the last count, but they aren’t just the media darlings, teens and self-promoters you might fear.
Research conducted by the Pew Research Center in America suggests that Twitter is more popular with female internet users than males and that it is used by people of all ages. At the time of her death in 2010, the world’s oldest known Twitter user, Ivy Bean, was 104. In short, Twitter’s users are a broad cross-section of society.
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