When Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, sent out his first Twitter message: 'just setting up my twttr' in March 2006, little did he know that his little blue bird is going to become the multi-million entity that it is today. Popularly known as the 'SMS of the internet', Twitter lets people share bite-sized updates about their life and follow the updates of people that matter in just 140 characters.
Founded by Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006, the micro-blogging site was launched publicly in July 2006. After Williams stepped down in October 2006, Dick Costolo was appointed the company's CEO.
Being a free service, Twitter is funded by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and Bezos Expeditions. Last year, Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal invested $300 million in Twitter.
On Twitter's sixth birthday, we take a stock of the social networking phenomenon which has changed the world we live in.
Social impact: Save the world in 140 characters
Twitter has played an important role in the society. It has allowed individuals and social groups to spread ideas and information faster. The micro-blogging site has been the platform for 'Twitter revolutions' during the Egyptian revolution (2011) and Tunisian uprising (2010-2011). During the Mumbai terror attacks, twitter users provided eyewitness accounts and tweeted hospital numbers regularly. The world has gained an instant insight into important social matters by just checking the trending topics on the site. Hash-tags like #Kony2012 and #prayforjapan have contributed in spreading social awareness.
As a part of many innovative trends, Twitter hosted the first ever live tweet-cast showcasing an open heart surgery, which was a revolutionary way of educating people.
Celebrities: The latest hangout
Twitter has made communication between the famous and their followers easier and personal. Not surprisingly, the advent of an online platform which breaks down the walls between celebrities and fans has become a big hit. It has become the new-age PR agency for celebs that promote themselves and engage with their fans.
Lady Gaga has recently become the first person in history to amass 20 million Twitter followers. Other popular names are singer Justin Bieber with 18.4 million followers and US President Barack Obama, with around 12.9 million followers.
Censorship: Thou shall not tweet obscenities
According to last year's official blog post on censorship, "Twitter did already sometimes take down tweets that were deemed "illegal." Recently, the social networking site implemented a censorship policy which censors tweets in accordance to laws of specific countries.
While it has maintained that the country-to-country censorship won't change its approach to freedom of expression, users have criticized the approach as it may hinder activists in Syria and similar situations.
Acquisitions: Come join our flock
While Twitter has been the focus of a number of acquisitions by Facebook, Yahoo or Google, it has held its own and made a few acquisitions of its own. In the past few years it has acquired Summize, Mixer Labs, Atebits, Cloudhopper, Fluther team and Smallthought Systems. Its most recent purchase has been a start-up called Posterous.
Extraordinaire: Most memorable tweets
Amongst the daily babble on Twitter, there have been tweets which have stood out. Here's a quick look at the top 5 tweets.
A Chinese man first tweeted the news about earthquake in China, way before media broke the news. His tweet said, "Gosh, magntude 7.8...God Bless"
Live from space
A NASA astronaut sent the first ever tweet via the International Space Station in 2012, "Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station - the 1st live tweet from Space! More soon, send your ?s."
Osama Bin Laden raid
Sohaib Athar, unknowingly tweeted the whole Osama Bin Ladenraid scene as he looked at the whizzing planes and gave a live update. It was only the next day that he realized what he had done and tweeted, ""Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it."
Max Kiesler asked Emily Chang for her hand in marriage on Twitter with this tweet, "To @emilychang - After fifteen years of blissful happiness I would like to ask for your hand in marriage?" Emily Chang replied,"@maxkiesler - yes, i do."
When a student, James Buck, was arrested in Egypt in 2008, he just sent a tweet saying "Arrested". It wasn't long before his followers started the proceedings for his subsequent release.