Brightbridge Wealth Management Headlines: Tweeters around the world mark Twitter’s fifth birthday
16 Jul 2011
MOST five-year-olds celebrate their birthday by gorging on cake, necking fizzy drinks and arguing about whether Lord Voldemort could take the Transformers in a straight fight.
Twitter, however, was far too busy yesterday to blow out candles. The micro-blogging site and communications phenomenon turned five and to mark the occasion, the world got tweeting – about Twitter.
“Twitter is five today. That’s like 80 in social media years,” wrote one of its 200 million users.
In the San Francisco offices of Twitter Inc, the privately-run company which owns the website, Twitter creator Jack Dorsey will have watched all this unfolding with a mixture of pleasure, pride and wonder at the effect his invention has had.
Today, it touches everything from politics and celebrity, to business, commerce, sport and education. There’s even a software programme which can predict the ups and downs of the stock market by analysing the mood of Twitter users from what they tweet.
Pop stars Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have 22 million followers between them and any actor, sportsman or musician worth their sponsorship deal recognises the importance of having a Twitter presence.
Not that it’s always a good thing. The agents who deal with top footballers work hard to get over the “don’t drink and tweet” message – but judging by the number of times they see their charges’ comments splashed over the tabloids after a few beers, the message isn’t getting through.
Celtic footballer Charlie Mulgrew didn’t even have to pick up a smartphone. When bra tycoon Michelle Mone saw a young boy alone in a car in freezing temperatures in a Glasgow car park she called the police and tweeted the story. “Nut case,” she fumed in a jibe aimed at the parents – in this case Mulgrew and his partner, who were quizzed over alleged child neglect. The charges were later dropped.
Tennis star Andy Murray has more than half-a-million followers. They’re treated to regular tweets on everything from Murray’s TV likes – Mock The Week, Miranda – to what he thought of the recent Hayes versus Klitschko boxing match. Check out the people he follows and you’ll find that Grand Prix star Jensen Button spent yesterday watching the Open.
Studies estimate that more than 40% of all tweets consist of meaningless babble. But that’s not the case on the streets of Damascus, Tehran and Cairo, where Twitter has allowed acts of revolt and repression to be reported instantly.
For the author and technology commentator David Eagleman, these Twitter users are like “embedded journalists” whose eyewitness accounts provide “a shockwave of news” that often outpaces the traditional media outlets. When Twitter starts to be cited as an agent for democratic change,governments sit up and pay attention.
Equally potent is Twitter’s ability to act as a sort of online cri de coeur. Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne set alarm bells ringing last month when he revealed his state of mind through a tweet. “My day could not have been worse,” he wrote. “Suicide is a considered option”.
Meanwhile troubled Hollywood star Charlie Sheen didn’t win four million Twitter followers because his tweets were sane, reasonable and measured.
Even language has fallen under Twitter’s spell.
“What’s trending?” is the sort of question we now hear in offices. And as “Twitterer” Stephen Fry notes on a forthcoming BBC Radio 4 pro-gramme, even the linguistically-pure French have fallen prey to the Twitter bug. They type “now” instead of “maintenant” to help them conform to Twitter’s first law: thou shalt use only 140 characters when thou tweets stuff.
All that remains to say can be said in far fewer words, however – happy birthday, big guy.
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