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Twitter, online microblogging service that distributes short messages of no more than 280 characters—called tweets—and that was influential in shaping politics and culture in the early 21st century. A user types a tweet and sends it to Twitter’s server, which relays it to a list of other users (known as followers) who have signed up to receive the sender’s messages. In addition, users can elect to track specific topics by clicking on hashtags (e.g., #movies), creating a dialogue of sorts and pushing the number of followers in a given Twitter feed into the millions.
The history of Twitter
Twitter emerged from the podcasting venture Odeo, which was founded in 2004 by Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass. (Williams and Stone had previously worked at Google, and Williams had created the popular Web authoring tool Blogger.) Apple announced in 2005 that it would add podcasts to its digital media application iTunes, and Odeo’s leadership felt that the company could not compete with Apple and a new direction was needed. Odeo’s employees were asked about any interesting side projects they had, and engineer Jack Dorsey proposed a short message service (SMS) on which one could send share small bloglike updates with friends. Glass proposed the name Twttr. Dorsey sent the first tweet (“just setting up my twttr”) on March 21, 2006, and the completed version of Twitter debuted in July 2006. Seeing a future for the product, in October 2006 Williams, Stone, and Dorsey bought out Odeo and started Obvious Corp. to further develop it. Interest in the platform sharply increased after it was presented at the South by Southwest music and technology conference in Austin, Texas, in March 2007. The following month Twitter, Inc., was created as a corporate entity, thanks to an infusion of venture capital, and Dorsey became Twitter’s first chief executive officer (CEO). In 2008 Williams ousted Dorsey as CEO, and two years later Williams was replaced as CEO by chief operating officer Dick Costolo.
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