Twitter is an online social media and networking platform developed and owned by the American company Twitter Inc. It mainly enables users to send and respond in messages that are 280 characters long, videos, and images, referred to as tweets. Registered users can also retweet tweets and reply to or send direct messages (DMs), while unregistered users can only view public tweets on the platform.
Twitter is available on various mobile operating systems and browsers. In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and was known as “the SMS of the Internet”. As of 2022, Twitter has over 368 million daily active users worldwide.
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Twitter was created by American technology entrepreneurs Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone in March 2006 and officially released online in July of the same year. In October 2022, business tycoon Elon Musk acquired its company, Twitter Inc., for US$44 billion to gain control of the platform. Two months later, however, Musk announced he would step down as CEO once a suitable replacement stepped in.
Here are some of Twitter’s notable features:
Tweets are one of the platform’s main features. By default, tweets are publicly available but can also be hidden by senders to their followers. Users can mute or block other users they don’t want to interact with and remove them from their Followers List. Tweets can be sent through Twitter’s official website, the Twitter app, or Short Message Service (SMS) in select countries.
Users can subscribe to other users, allowing them to see their tweets—this is known as following—and subscribers are referred to as followers. Other users can forward individual tweets to their feeds by retweeting. The feature quote tweet was released in 2015, which allowed users to add a caption or comment to their retweets.
Users can also like tweets of others by clicking the Heart button below a tweet. Each tweet will have its counters for likes, retweets, and replies next to their respective buttons and appear on search results and profile timelines. Typically, users can update their Twitter profiles via the mobile app or web client.
In September 2022, Twitter announced that the feature to edit a tweet was being tested for selected users. Initially, edits will be allowed for 30 minutes, and previous versions of an edited tweet will be available. Ultimately, all Twitter Blue users will have access to this feature.
Users can use hashtags—words or phrases prefixed by a pound or hash (#) sign—to organize or group posts by topic or type.
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Twitter introduced hashflags, or unique hashtags that automatically display a custom emoji next to them for a specific period. Hashflags can be made by Twitter themselves (to raise awareness about social issues) or be purchased by companies to promote their brands on the platform.
Twitter Blue is a paid subscription service by Twitter launched in June 2021. It aims to provide additional exclusive features on top of the available functions in the platform. Some of these features include:
- Undo Tweet – delays the posting of a tweet up to one minute to let the sender withdraw the tweet before it is sent.
- Reader Mode – converts tweet threads into an article-like view.
- Bookmarks – allows users to save their desired tweets to folders.
- NFT profile pictures are displayed in a hexagon-shaped frame.
- Planned edit feature (still under development).
- Customized navigation bar.
- Dedicated customer support.