Hoaxes and revolutions: Twitter’s fifth anniversary

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Today marks the fifth anniversary of the very first Twitter update by Jack Dorsey (@Jack), co-founder of the mircologging site. On the 21st of March 2006, that first tweet went out sending our world into a digital spiral consisting of 140 characters thought patterns. Twitter was born.

The tweet that began it all simply read: “inviting coworkers.” With its present valuation said to be approaching US$10-billion, the Twitter of 2006 is perhaps a touch different from the Twitter of 2011. I am sure it’s much more than what Dorsey and fellow creators saw then. Dorsey posted conversation between himself and Biz Stone on his Tumblr pertaining to the birth of Twitter.

In the last five years we have mused our way around Twitter, trying to find the best ways to utilise its unique possibilities. It was once referred to as trivial ramblings of amateurs and a space for unmediated content. Today almost all media houses and major new corporation have Twitter accounts and use the platform to deliver headlines to their audience.

In 2007 just under a year after the first tweet went out, Twitter fluttered on the stage at South by Southwest conference. Where it won a SXSW award in the “Blog” category, and Jack Dorsey delivered his now famous thank you in 140 characters.

One of Twitter’s most memorable moments and perhaps what propelled it into mainstream media — the Kutcher challenge. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) challenged CNN (@CNN) to reach a million followers. The chanllege in April 2009 was covered extensively by news outlets and subsequently made Twitter a pop culture phenomena. Kutcher later won. Launching a wave of celebrity users onto the platform.

Twitter has become a platform where news is broken, watched and reported. Michael Jackson’s death, the Egyptian revolution, Haitian earthquake and the recent quake in Japan. All were heavily discussed topics on the site. Twitter is the “go-to” little guy for information. Many have dubbed the platform of revolution following its role in the Egyptian revolution.

Unfortunately it’s not always good information that comes out of Twitter. Some hoaxes have found their way onto the platform. The horrible Mandela death hoax, that had South Africans confused and restless about the beloved leader. The Balloon Boy hoax, that had millions worried for a little boy trapped in an airborne balloon alone. A balloon was later revealed to be empty, after tireless rescue efforts. Yes Twitter is no stranger rumours and vicious hoaxes, information flutters about quickly on the platform.

Five years and Twitter’s potential still grows. Rumours of possible acquisition by internet giants such as Google and Facebook linger. A possible ad revenue of US$150-million in 2011, there is definitely more to be seen from Twitter.

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