It may be hard to believe but Twitter is celebrating its seventh birthday today. For a service that has only existed since 2006, it's very hard to imagine a world without it.
In a pretty short time, Twitter has grown from a novelty to a way of life. And along the way it has brought us together, helped topple governments and even brought in some very unlikely characters.
"As we’ve grown, Twitter has become a true global town square — a public place to hear the latest news, exchange ideas and connect with people all in real time. This is where you come to connect with the world at large. Get on your soapbox to critique elected officials, or go sotto voce to the neighbor next to you. And as in other gathering places, commerce happens too (and jokes and art-making and debating, and — you get the idea)," Karen Wickre, Editorial Director at Twitter, wrote in a celebratory blogpost.
To honor the occasion, VatorNews present to you seven milestones in the history of Twitter:
1. The first Tweet (of course!)
On March 21, 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out the first Tweet, and the rest, as they say, was history.
— Jack Dorsey (@jack) March 21, 2006
2. 2007 South by Southwest Interactive
A year after it launched, Twitter was doing ok for itself. It wasn't extremely popular, seeing 20,000 Tweets per day, but it was slowly becoming noticed. It was at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, though, that Twitter became a phenomenon.
Twitter came up with the bright idea of placing two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways that exclusively streamed Twitter messages. Soon everyone was talking about the service and, more importantly, Tweeting each other constantly.
As a result, Twitter saw its numbers triple to 60,000 Tweets a day that weekend. It was the tipping point for Twitter's enormous popularity to come.
3. Iranian riots
For the first few years of its existence, a lot of people started using Twitter, but it would be a lie to say that it was widely respected. Most thought of it as superfluous at best, a scourge at worst.
That all changed in the summer of 2009, with the Iranian election protests, where hundreds of thousands of Iranians demonstrated against Friday’s election, which handed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an improbably lopsided victory.
Iran tried to shut Twitter down, but the site found a way through and was credited with helping to bring news of the event to American audiences.
While Ahmadinejad stayed in power, Twitter would prove even more effective two years later, when it helped oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
4. First Tweet from space
Since conquering the west, man has been yearning for a new frontier. We could explore the ocean floor, but that doesn't seem like all that much fun. Also, it's really wet down there!
So instead we chose space. And what better way to show how far we've come than to tweet from there?
So, on January 22, 2010, Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer sent out the first live tweet from space:
— TJ Creamer (@Astro_TJ) January 22, 2010
5. Japanese earthquake
Iran and Egypt may have shown the power that Twitter had to empower people, but after a devastating earthquake in Japan in 2011, it also showed that it had the power to help people.
When mobile and landline phone networks collapsed in the hours following the 8.9 scale earthquake, people turned to social networks, especially Twitter, to keep in touch with loved ones, provide emergency numbers and information to those in need.
The U.S. State Department used Twitter to publish emergency numbers, and inform Japanese residents in America how to contact their family members. Relief organizations used Twitter to post information for non-Japanese speakers to lists of shelters for those left homeless. An hour after the quake hit Japan Twitter experienced 1,200 posted tweets per minute.
From then on, Twitter became an important tool in natural disaster relief, most recently during Hurricane Sandy this past Fall.
6. The Pope joins Twitter
How do you know when you've really made it? Sure, you can have lots of people using your service, but there is always that one person that, if you could just get them, you will be a cultural touchstone.
For Twitter, that person may have been the Pope.
The Pope first joined Twitter on December 3rd, with the handle @pontifex, a term that means bridge-builder in Latin. The Pope’s Twitter account was made available in eight different languages: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic, French and English. Within hours of joining, he had 200,000 followers on the English account.
Despite joining on the 3rd, he waited nine days to send out a message, with the first official Tweet being sent out by the Pope on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
That first message was retweeted more than 64,000 times, and favorited more by more than 25,000 users.
When Benedict XVI resigned last month, the last thing did as Pope was push the send button on Twitter, writing, "Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives."
While it was unclear if the Pope's Twitter account was going to survive, but the account was quickly revived and Pope Francis I has since tweeted three times.
7. Twitter passes 200 million monthly users
In December, Twitter announced that it had passed a major milestone: the 200 million monthly user mark.
What is more impressive is that in March 2012, as the social network celebrated its sixth birthday, it announced that it had 140 million users, sending out 340 million tweets per day. That means in just nine months it saw its user base grow by 60 million, or around 42%.
Of course, Twitter has a long, long way to go if it ever wants to beat Facebook, which has over a billion active users, but I don’t want to take away from its accomplishment. Twitter is the second most popular social network, double the number of active users Google+ announced in September.
— Twitter (@twitter) December 18, 2012
Twitter put up this short video, commemorating some its biggest moments from the past seven years:
Btw, in case you were wondering about that picture: that is me at my seventh birthday party. And no, I have no explanation for what is happening.