Twitter donates tweets to Library of Congress

Ronny Kerr · April 14, 2010 · Short URL:

Google releases Replay, new tool for reliving real-time reactions to events in the past

Library of CongressTwitter announced on Wednesday that it will be donating its entire archive of public tweets on the microblogging site to the Library of Congress, the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and the largest library in the world.

The Library of Congress houses millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and, now, tweets.

Tweets have in just the last year become worthy of research because they are the fastest, most visible record of public reaction to events taking place around the world, like natural disasters, historic elections, and protests. After a six-month delay, every public tweet will be transferred to the Library of Congress for internal library use, non-commercial research, public display in the library, and preservation.

"Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world—from historic elections to devastating disasters," writes Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. "It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research."

Additionally, Google announced Wednesday morning the release of a new tool called Replay that allows users to relive the experience of a real-time reaction to important events that have taken place, like the retirement of Justice Stevens or the passage of Obama's health care bill.

Today, Twitter sees 55 million tweets posted to the site daily, according to the company, which also says that number is "climbing sharply." The site now has over 105 million registered users and 75% of its traffic comes from third-party services, external to For comparison, Facebook has more than 400 million registered users.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

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