A social network where users publish posts, called tweets, limited in length to 140 characters.
Twitter was launched in July 0f 2006, and in less than ten years has grown to include more than 500 million total registered users, or which 320 million are active every month. Twitter is composed of posts no more than 140 characters long, called Tweets.
Twitter can be accessed in a web browser, in a smartphone application, or by using text-messaging to post new tweets and receive notifications of new activity.
Twitter users can choose to follow other users. By doing so, they will see all the tweets posted by the users they are following listed in chronological order when they access Twitter's homepage.
Twitter users can set their own accounts to be publicly accessible or to be private. Tweets posted by public accounts can be viewed by anyone, including visitors who are not registered Twitter users. Tweets posted by private accounts can only be viewed by followers who are manually approved by the user who's account is private.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there different kinds of tweets?
There are six basic types of tweets you may see on Twitter:
- Normal tweets: A normal tweet is a brand new message posted to Twitter. It will appear on the sender's profile and on the home page of anyone following the sender.
- Retweets: Retweeting occurs when a user reposts or forwards another user's tweet.
- Quotes: Quote tweets are a type of retweet, but one that includes additional comments made by the user reposting the tweet.
- Mentions: Users can be mentioned in a tweet by using the @ symbol and the users name (@UserName). Users who are mentione in a tweet will be notified of the mention, and the tweet will also appear on their profile page.
- Replies: Users can reply to a tweet, and by doing so ensure that the original sender will receive a notification that someone has replied to their tweet.
- Direct messages: Direct messages aren't technically tweets, but they are another way of communicating on Twitter. Direct messages are messages sent privately to one or more Twitter users. As of August 2015, direct messages are the only type of Twitter communication that is not subject to the 140 character limit.
Why are tweets limited to 140 characters?
When Twitter was created, compatibility with text messaging was a critical piece of the overall strategy. The hard limit of 140 characters per tweet was implemented to ensure compatibility with text messaging. Even today, text messaging can be used to receive notification from Twitter and to post new Tweets.
How is Twitter different from Facebook?
Twitter and Facebook are the two of the most popular social networks in the world. However, they are far from being the same. A few of the key differences between Facebook and Twitter include:
- The lifespan of a post on Twitter is very short, often only an hour or two, while Facebook posts attract active participation for a few days. As a result, the most effective use of Twitter will include posts every few hours, while Facebook activity seems to be optimized when new posts are made every other day.
- Relationships on Twitter are often one-sided. On Facebook, in order for two users to be connected, one must send a friend request and the user who receives the friend request must approve it, implying a deeper relationship than what is often implied on Twitter where anyone can choose to follow a publicly accessible Twitter account without requiring any approval.
- Information spreads across Twitter much more quickly, and many breaking news stories see heavy sharing on Twitter. Content that is not time-sensitive or “breaking” often receives more attention on Facebook.
What are the most-followed accounts on Twitter?
The most followed accounts on Twitter include celebrities, brands, politicians, and media companies. As of late 2015, the top five most-followed Twitter accounts included Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Barack Obama, and YouTube, each with more than 50,000,000 followers.