Twitter turns six: Looking back at what 140 characters have accomplished


Hard as it is to believe, microblogging platform Twitter celebrates its sixth anniversary today. That’s right; the powder-blue brainchild of Jack Dorsey took shape six years ago in its then-incarnation of “Twttr,” signaling the death of the overly verbose status update and ushering in the age of popstars feuding with news anchors. Celebratory tweets today range from the humorous (“Twitter is 6 years old today. This explains why so many of its users spell at a 1st grade level”) to the heartfelt (“Happy 6th birthday, Twitter! The way news and information is shared has been forever changed. Thank you, @jack and @biz.”)

twitter turns six looking back at what 140 characters have accomplished early sketch
Jack Dorsey's early concept sketch for what would later become the social media service, Twitter

One thing is for sure; the social media site and its devotees have wrought plenty of changes over the last six years. While certain elements of Twitter’s evolution — such as its adoption as a celebrity sounding platform and corporate customer engagement tool — were somewhat predictable, others were less so. Take, for instance, the rise of citizen journalism. News such as the assassination of Osama bin Laden last fall and the recent death of Whitney Houston were broken not by journalists or agencies but by an IT consultant hoping for a quiet getaway and user claiming to be the niece of a Houston employee, respectively.

Then, of course, there was the unprecedented role of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in the Arab Spring movement. A Washington University study released last September credited the use of social media with playing a “central role” in the popular uprisings that helped unseat Tunisian and Egyptian presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. In the study entitled,“Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?” Philip Howard, an associate professor of communication at UW, and his co-authors assert that Twitter and other social media platforms “played a central role in shaping political debates in the Arab Spring” through “online revolutionary conversations [that] often preceded major events on the ground” and  “helped spread democratic ideas across international borders.” Not bad for a six-year-old.

So, whether you’re toppling a vicious tyrannical oligarchy or simply Tweeting about your Shamrock Shake today, take a moment to appreciate the many facets of Twitter and wish it a very happy birthday.

Photo credit: Jack Dorsey


Canary home security company sued over $10 monitoring fee

A class-action lawsuit claims home security startup Canary offered free monitoring features to entice people to purchase their cameras, then started charging a monthly fee to continue using them.

The DualShock 4 is one of the best controllers ever, and you can use it with a PC

Sony's new DualShock 4 controller has become a fan favorite, and some people want to use it with a PC. Here's how to connect your DualShock 4 and start using it, either with an official adapter, or unofficial software.

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.
Smart Home

Got an Emerson thermostat? 135,000 of them are being recalled due to fire risk

Most recalls are relatively benign but if you own an Emerson-branded thermostat, we encourage you to check your model number because the company has alerted consumers to the potential of the device starting a fire.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.