What's in a tweet?

You’ve heard of Facebook, been through the days of Orkut, well now get ready for Twitter.

Twitter is a micro blogging service that allows users to make short posts, consisting of 140 characters only. Users can post anything on their mind or even news or events as they happen. They can also follow each other, to be up-to-date on their happenings.

Compared to Facebook or Orkut, this may seem miniscule, but lately this blogging service is getting a lot of attention thanks to its ease of access and news reporting capabilities.

Because people can Twitter through SMS and their mobile phones, the service has broken many news headlines in recent times. In January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 crashed in the Hudson River, New York. A rescue worker on one of the rescue ferries took a picture of the evacuation process and uploaded it on to Twitter before any news media did. In June 2009, following allegations of fraud in the Iranian presidential election, protesters used Twitter as a rallying tool and as a method of communication with the outside world after the government blocked several other modes of communication. These are just some of the moments where Twitter has been instrumental in getting the news out to the world and fast.

Besides the news, Twitter can also be described as “word of mouth” for the 21st century. People discuss products, TV shows, movies, music, and anything and everything that they’ve just discovered. Most of these are everyday people; however, politicians, celebrities and even government institutions are now part of Twitter.

For example, Nasa’s Lunar Observer has its own Twitter feed, which is updated with all the latest images from the Moon. The Whitehouse’s Twitter feed deals with everyday policy making to announcements being made. News channels such as BBC and CNN both have their feeds on Twitter but also rely heavily on users for their sources of information. But there is call for authentication of users as propaganda and misleading information can also spread through Twitter.

Since social networks are all the rage these days, its no wonder people are twittering around the world. It’s simple to join up and very easy to maintain, all you need are 140 characters or just a line or two to explain how your day went or what you did. It is its simplicity that makes Twitter so much easy to take on.

Facebook and Orkut might have proven that the world is getting smaller and smaller, but Twitter does the opposite. It shows you the world in under 140 characters.

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