Twitter has been around for almost a decade and there is so much that we just don’t know about the social networking service. The one thing we know for sure is that, like most companies, it began small and then became quite large. We’re still quite shocked that something that only allows 140-character messages could become so successful. Since we are huge fans of Twitter, we figured we’d round up 10 facts about the company/service that aren’t especially well known. Some of these things will definitely shock you while others will probably have you designing your own online social networking business before you’re even through the list.
Twitter was created during a brainstorming session at the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey proposed an SMS based platform to Odeo’s co-founder Evan Williams, who gave him the go ahead to further develop this idea.
Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006 9:50 p.m., which read: “just setting up my twttr.”
Twitter became its own company in April 2007.
A major turning point for Twitter was the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference. During the conference, Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000. “The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter messages,” Newsweek’s Steven Levy said. “Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it.”
The reason that Twitter only allows 140-character messages is because it was originally designed as an SMS mobile phone-based platform. Since SMS messages have a 160-character limit, the founders of Twitter decided to stay in these bounds so that users would receive a whole tweet in a single message.
Developers and users in Twitter’s ecosystem created retweets, replies, hashtags, mobile apps and social ads; however, none of these investors received a slice of the company when it went public in 2013.
The celebrity with the most followers is Katy Perry – she has 69.3 million followers and counting.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg tried to buy Twitter twice. He reportedly offered the Twitter founders $500 million, but they turned him down. “I like him, and I respect him, it’s just that we didn’t click. I’m a jokey guy and he’s a very serious guy so every joke I made – it was a tough crowd,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said.
When Twitter was first established, the “fail whale” error message would appear whenever there was an outage. The image was created by Yiying Lu, an artist who had initially created the design for a birthday card.
Access to Twitter is currently blocked in North Korea, China, and Iran.