10 Years, 10 Interesting Facts about Twitter

Article by George Norman (Cybersecurity Editor)

on 21 Mar 2016

Twitter is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. It was on March 21, 2006 that Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey sent out the very first tweet. A simple “just setting up my twttr” message that has been retweeted more than 74,000 times since then.

Twitter offices around the world are going to mark this joyous occasion by “showing our appreciation and gratitude.” I thought it a good idea to mark Twitter’s 10th anniversary by highlight 10 interesting facts about it. Here goes.

1. Twitter by the numbers

  • 18 quintillion – the total number of accounts Twitter can handle.
  • 1.3 billion – the estimated total number of users, including those who tried Twitter but did not stick around.
  • 500 million – the total number of Twitter users; also, the total number of people who visit Twitter each month but do not log in; and the total number of tweets that are sent every day.
  • 332 million – the number of active monthly Twitter users. 80% of them access Twitter by using a mobile device.
  • 100 million – the amount Twitter spent to acquire Periscope.
  • 65 million – the number of Twitter users in the US. But 79% of all Twitter accounts are from outside the United States, mind you.
  • 20 million – the number of estimated fake Twitter users.
  • 10,000 – the amount of characters you can use in Direct Messages. Tweets continue to be limited to 140 characters though.
  • 2013 – the year when Twitter stopped using the "fail whale".
  • 139 – the total number of world leaders who are active on Twitter. 83% of world leaders use Twitter by the way, and the most popular among them is Barack Obama with more than 71 million followers.

2. The Twitter bird is called...

Larry. The bird from Twitter’s signature and internationally identifiable logo is called Larry, after the Boston Celtics basketball player Larry Bird.

But in 2012, Twitter introduced its 3rd logo redesign. Larry the Bird was replaced with a new icon that’s simply named the “Twitter Bird.”

Speaking about names, Twitter's original project name was twttr. Six months after it launched, the team purchased the Twitter.com domain and changed the name to Twitter. Other names that were considered were Twitch, FriendStalker and Dodgeball.

3. Twitter is banned and blocked in certain countries

China, North Korea and Iran have completely banned access to Twitter.

Countries like Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and Venezuela haven’t banned Twitter, but they have blocked access to it on multiple occasions.

4. One fake tweet caused a flash market crash

Pictured above is the market drop caused by a fake tweet back in 2013.

Long story short: someone hacked the Associated Press’ twitter account and posted a fake tweet which said two explosions occurred in the White House and Barack Obama is injured. This caused a flash market crash that managed to wipe out more than $130 billion in shareholder value in minutes.

5. The most popular Twitter account belongs to...

With close to 85 million followers, Katy Perry has the most popular account on Twitter. The second most popular account belongs to Justin Bieber, the third to Taylor Swift, the fourth to Barack Obama, and the fifth to YouTube. At 53 million followers, Twitter’s Twitter account comes in at number 9 on the list of most popular accounts.

The record for the fastest Twitter account to reach 1 million followers goes to Caitlyn Jenner. The former decathlete known as Bruce Jenner managed to get 1 million followers in 4 hours and 3 minutes, back in April 2015. The one to hold the record before that was Robert Downey Jr. He managed to get 1 million followers in 23 hours and 22 minutes back in April 2014.

The first Twitter user to get 1 million followers was Ashton Kutcher. He won Twitter’s “Million followers contest” in April 2006.

6. The most retweeted post is...

Remember the selfie that Ellen DeGeneres took at the 86th Academy Awards, back in March 2014? If you don’t, it’s pictured above and it's available on Ellen's Twitter here.

Anyway, the post has been retweeted over 2 million times by the end of the Oscars ceremony, about 2.8 million times in the first 24 hours, and more than 3 million times as of writing this.

It is the most retweeted image in Twitter’s history. It even managed to shut down Twitter for more than 20 minutes.

Before Ellen DeGeneres, the most retweeted tweet belonged to Barack Obama. It was the "four more years" tweet he posted after winning the 2012 presidential election.

7. Twitter is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol

According to a 2012 study headed by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University's Booth Business School, Twitter may be harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes.

The study measured how well people could resist their desires; and while they were successful in resisting things like sexual urges and spending impulses, they had a harder time resisting social media.

8. The Library of Congress archives every tweet

Part of the Library’s mission is to “collect the story of America and to acquire collections that will have research value.” That's why the Library of Congress signed an agreement with Twitter, agreement which grants it access to all Twitter communications since Twitter’s launch in 2006.

Or to put it in layman’s terms, the Library of Congress wants to archive every public tweet.

9. Jack Dorsey stopped posting to Instagram because...

Pictured above is Jack Dorsey’s last Instagram post. It’s from April 2012, the same time that Facebook bought Instagram. Facebook, by the way, recently celebrated is 12th anniversary.

Dorsey was reportedly brokenhearted when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. He hasn’t posted anything on his Instagram account following the acquisition.

10. Find anyone’s first tweet at First-Tweets.com

You’ve had a Twitter account for years and you posted countless tweets over time. Do you remember your first tweet? Visit First-Tweets.com and uncover your first tweet. Or enter someone’s username and see their first tweet.

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