this is how it was born and how it became so

The microblogging platform Twitter by now it has entered the daily life of millions of people all over the world: both of those who use it and of those who suffer its effects indirectly. On Twitter, celebrities and influential personalities express themselves whose words have a considerable impact on what is happening in the world – the case of former President Donald Trump is emblematic – yet the social network is relatively recent in the history of the Internet: the March 21, 2006, has just turned 15.

The first tweet was written by a bot

The day of the birth of Twitter was chosen because of the date of publication of the first twitter: it was published by one of the founders – current CEO Jack Dorsey – and it simply reads “Just setting up my twttr”, a setting tweet that was published in an automated way and which reveals one of the first names by which the developers called their creature still in swaddling clothes. The tweet has become famous – so much so that in recent weeks it has been on sale for more than two million dollars – but it did not come directly from Dorsey’s fingers: that same March 21 the entire circle of developers and employees who were working on the platform posted the same post automatically, taking a sort of group photo of the original team behind Twitter.

They had to be temporary statuses

Twitter was born from an idea born by Jack Dorsey together with Ev Williams, who at the time was his employer in a startup called Odeo and specialized in podcasts. The new social network emerges as a parallel project in a not particularly happy period for Odeo; the idea was to create a platform focused only on status, that is to visualize verbatim what the subscribers were doing or thinking at a certain time. In short, each published status should have overwritten the previous one, but in a meeting with all the developers involved in the project this aspect was eliminated by transforming Twitter into a chronology of what users decide to publish – that is, into something very similar to the service that is today.

Twitter e iPhone

One of the aspects that have most decreed the success of Twitter was its presence among the first apps available for what would become the most iconic smartphone of all time: theiPhone from Apple. The social network already appeared as an app in the first version of the phone and its App Store, and its operation went perfectly with a touch device where it was possible to quickly write and scroll through the updates of hundreds of thousands (soon millions) of people. . No wonder that from 2011 to 2017 Twitter remained deeply integrated into the iOS operating system, while the app spread like wildfire even on Android phones and all browsers.

The historical tweets

From the birth of Twitter to the adoption of the @ and # symbols to define usernames and trends, passing through the extension of the character limit from 140 to 280: there are many innovations that the social network has undergone over the years without distorting itself. To make the history of the platform but it was the tweets, the content posted by users who have configured the service more and more as one huge source of news and commentary in a way that other social networks have never been able to. From the announcement of first earthquake tweets announcing in advance the secret operation that would lead to the killing of Osama Bin Laden; from the highly retweeted selfie of Ellen DeGeneres at the night of the Oscars to phenomena such as #metoo that have gained traction thanks to the conversations that have developed on the platform. Twitter has become famous as a social that gives a voice to those who often do not have one, even if it does not do it in a neutral way.

Limits and Risks

In fact, the platform is not protected from defects that make it possible for groups of power or simply well organized hijack conversations or impose themes and worldviews far from reality: bot networks that spread fake news, disinformation and hate campaigns, and last but not least the tweets inciting the revolt of former US president Donald Trump have undermined and continue to undermine the conduct of an online civil confrontation. Despite the years behind it, Twitter still has problems to solve – especially as a platform devoted to the dissemination of news and information. In an era in which the truth has never taken on such fleeting contours, these are not issues that should be taken lightly.


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