Launch: March 2006
Monthly active users: 302 million+
Registered users: 1 billion
Users in the U.S.: 52 million+
Tweets per day: 500 million+
The position of “top dog” in the social media world used to belong to Facebook, but when it comes to the most used social media platform across the board, from kids to adults to celebrities to athletes, Twitter reigns supreme.
Twitter is a microblog (mini-blog) that allows its users to send out what are known as ‘tweets.’ Tweets are 140-character messages about anything. Users often tweet about sporting events, awards shows, fundraisers, personal emotions, jokes...just about whatever is on their mind at the moment. Users can also add photos to their tweets, as well as links to photos, websites, online articles, etc. Twitter users can follow the accounts of other users in order to see their tweets on their own timeline. Users can also make their accounts private, meaning those wishing to follow that account must get the approval of the account’s owner first, or, block other users, meaning those users cannot see their account.
When following a specific account, or if an account is not private, meaning all of its tweets can be seen, users have the option of ‘retweeting’ specific tweets, or essentially, copying another user’s tweet and posting it on their own account. Users can also ‘favorite’ certain tweets as a means of saving the tweets they find most appealing. Finally, users can send direct messages to other users that follow them.
Hashtags might be the most popular aspect of Twitter. A hashtag is a word or phrase that follows the ‘ # ‘ symbol, and people use hashtags as a means of following certain topics as opposed to certain people. The most popular hashtags pop up on the left side of users’ timelines and when clicked on, popular tweets incorporating that hashtag replace one’s timeline.
Twitter can be both positive and negative for the same reason: its popularity. When attempting to fundraise or get the word out about a positive message or opportunity, Twitter is a fantastic tool to reach a large amount of people. But when attempting to spread negativity, Twitter is also a great tool. Celebrities and athletes tend to be extremely popular on Twitter, seeing as how the platform is a great way to connect directly with fans. On the other hand, however, that direct interaction with fans has proven troublesome for many celebrities and athletes who might respond to fan's criticism.
In terms of the high school realm, Twitter can be used for joking and innocent conversation between friends, but it can also be used for cyber-bullying and discussing crude topics. For instance, there is a specific Twitter account in which students at Orange County high schools can have their tweets published anonymously, essentially giving them the freedom to say whatever they feel about their high school or post potentially incriminating pictures of kids/staff from their schools.
In the end, like with any social media platform, it’s about how you use it. Twitter, because of its size and reach, can be one of the most powerful social media platforms, for good and bad.