The anatomy of Twitter

Every day, millions go online to write a short message or blurb that consists of 140 characters or less. They are all tweeting to colleagues, friends and family.

Founded in 2006, Twitter was established so that people could send out messages that could be read by a group at one time.

During the past few years, millions have joined the website and have helped it become the latest social media trend.

Following the paths of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, Twitter has become a topic that many people bring up in their daily life. Newspaper companies, celebrities and many others have started to use the site for professional purposes.

Susan Sivek, assistant professor of Mass Communication, uses Twitter to communicate with classes and establish herself as a journalist.

“It gives people a way to connect with each other that isn’t that intimidating,” Sivek said. “Instead of adding someone as a friend, you can follow them in a more casual way.”

Tweeting consists of composing a blurb of 140 characters or less. In a tweet, the users can include links or photos along with basic text. In each tweet, people tend to use mentions and hashtags.

Users can mention other people in a tweet by including the “@” symbol followed by the person’s mentioned username. The person will see it and also everyone who follows you and the person you mentioned.

Hashtags are ways to categorize the tweets that a user posts. The Twitter site compiles all the tweets with familiar hashtags together so you can see all the tweets with similar topics.

Popular hashtags that are used a great deal are referred to as a “mass trend.” After the death of Whitney Houston, millions began tweeting about the pop singer and included the hashtag “#RIPWhitney.”

People use the site for multiple reasons, some for social networking and some just to voice the thoughts they have throughout the day. With access to Twitter now available on smartphones, people can instantly find out information on the go.

Even though there are many people using Twitter now, some still do not want to join the social site. Common thoughts about the site are that it is confusing or it is too simple.

Twitter’s simple format makes it so that more information can be published and any person could use the site for multiple purposes. The site allows users to receive up-to-date information from pages that they follow directly onto their personal feed.

Sometimes, companies tweet about job openings and the latest developments.

Recently, Twitter has become involved in the 2012 presidential election.

Twitter pages have been created for the candidates, which display their campaign themes and ideas. Also, they tweet about upcoming appearances and views on what is going on.

This connection provides the new “web generation” a chance to be more involved in politics.

Individuals are now able to communicate their issues, concerns and even praises in just a few characters. Announcements can be made through a simple tweet, and then every follower will receive the news on their feed.

Besides using the site for professional communication, a majority of the young users are turning to Twitter for personal reasons.

Many share their personal thoughts that connect them with other users with similar interests.

There is a specific lexicon that comes along with the site. The website has a glossary of words that many use to shorten response, giving the site its own personality.

Terms, such as “retweet” and “tweet” have no meaning without understanding the context of what the site has established as its meaning.

Senior Adrienne Berthot decided to use Twitter so that she could follow celebrities and news stories.

“I think Twitter is just a different form of social networking and that it is gaining popularity because of its ease of use in seeing what is happening and in talking to other people,” Berthot said.

On a normal basis, Berthot tweets a few times a week, but checks the site daily. She acknowledges that people can use the site not just for entertainment news but also to see what is going on in the world.

Across campus, the trend is spreading and becoming a popular topic.

Twitter Terms

Tweet: the post that users put up

Tweeter: a person that posts and reads things on Twitter

Retweet: when something is reposted from someone you follow, often referred to as RT

Hashtags: using the # symbol, way to categorize your tweet with keywords

@: used to connect tweet with other users that connects it to their profile

DM: stands for Direct Message, where can privately send someone a message

Follow: subscribing to the posts that a user posts

Ivanna Tucker/ Features editor
Ivanna Tucker can be reached at

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