Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through its website interface, through Short Message Service (SMS) or its mobile-device application software (“app”). The company is based in San Francisco, California, and has more than 25 offices around the world. Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but was doubled to 280 for non-Asian languages in November 2017.

Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, launched in July of that year. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity. In 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and has been described as “the SMS of the Internet”. As of 2018, Twitter had more than 321 million monthly active users. Twitter is a some-to-many microblogging service, given that the vast majority of tweets are written by a small minority of users.

Twitter saw somewhat dramatic growth in 2020, possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During said pandemic, it saw an increased use of the platform for misinformation related to the pandemic. Twitter announced in March 2020 that it would start marking tweets which may contain misleading information, in some cases it will provide links to pages of fact-checking information.

A major hack of Twitter on July 15, 2020 affected 130 high-profile accounts, both verified and unverified ones such as Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk; the hack allowed Bitcoin scammers to send tweets via the compromised accounts that asked the followers to send bitcoin to a given public address, with the promise to double their money. Within a few hours, company disabled tweeting and reset passwords from all verified accounts. Analysis of the event revealed that the scammers had used social engineering to obtain credentials from Twitter employees to access an administration tool used by Twitter to view and change these accounts’ personal details as to gain access as part of a “smash and grab” attempt to make money quickly, with an estimated US$120,000 in bitcoin deposited in various accounts before Twitter intervened. Several law enforcement entities including the FBI launched investigations into the attack to determine the perpetrators over concerns of broader implications of such a hack in the future.

During the George Floyd protests and through the 2020 election, misinformation spread by Donald Trump led to Twitter expanding a policy where they added disclaimers to misinformation. Twitter was among the platforms associated with the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. According to the Associated Press, “federal law enforcement authorities said that there was activity on the platform, but that they weren’t expecting the level of violence they ultimately saw last Wednesday.” This led to Trump being suspended from Twitter for glorifying violence, among other reasons such as false allegations of election fraud.

On January 26, 2021, Twitter acquired Revue, an email newsletter service to compete with platforms like Substack.

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