Ten years of Twitter... But will the next decade be quite so momentous?

Twitter is ten years old on Monday.Twitter is ten years old on Monday.
Twitter is ten years old on Monday.
Twitter marks its tenth anniversary on Monday, with the social media site having hosted some of the biggest social movements of the last 10 years, yet uncertainty still hangs over its future.

The site is struggling to attract new users, has seen share prices tumble and faces continued questions over how it handles abuse, but can still lay claim to some of social media's biggest moments of the last decade.

Five hundred million tweets are now sent every day, with 200 billion posted every year and hashtags such as #JeSuisParis in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in the French capital dominating international debate online.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton was also first confirmed on Twitter in 2010 in a royal first.

Twitter's Lewis Wilshere said of the site's 10th birthday: "Whether it's the London 2012 Olympics, the #GBBO final, the General Election or the BRIT Awards, when big events happen, they happen on Twitter. The depth and breadth of content shared by our users around these big moments has made it the perfect live viewing party for the world's biggest events."

"And 10 years on from the first ever Tweet, our birthday also gives us a great chance to reflect on those big events, but also on those Twitter users who connect in other amazing and inspiring ways, every day. From @HerdyShepherd1 Tweeting updates from his farm to a worldwide audience of thousands, to campaigning movements like #EverydaySexism, we remain humbled and inspired by the people who have made Twitter their own."

In 2008, NASA also used the site to confirm the Mars Phoenix Lander had found ice on the planet.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There have also been more than 250 billion 'likes' of posts to site.

However, issues have continued to plague Twitter, particularly surrounding abuse - something one of its most prominent supporters, actor Stephen Fry cited when he quit Twitter last month.

He described its decline from "a secret bathing-pool in a magical glade" to a stagnant pool that is "frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish", adding that he felt the site had become a "stalking ground".

Despite this Twitter still has more than 15 million users in the UK, with One Direction's official account the most followed UK account, with more than 27.6 million followers. Uncertainty remains however, with speculation continuing over possible plans by the firm to remove the site's signature 140-character limit, despite calls to resist from the majority of users.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While being known as one of the most prominent social media sites in the world, Twitter has also seen a host of controversies in its 10 years, with many revolving around abuse on the site and how users have reacted to it.

* In early 2015, former chief executive Dick Costolo, while still in charge of the company, sent a memo to all Twitter staff telling them the site must do more to tackle abusive messages and content, saying that it currently "sucks" at dealing with it. He adds that this is one of the key reasons more people are not active on the site. A new help centre for reporting abuse is launched, but within six months Mr Costolo has resigned and is replaced by the site's founder, Jack Dorsey.

* After making a joke about costume designer Jenny Beavan during this year's Baftas, referring to her as a "bag lady", comedian and presenter Stephen Fry quits the social media site in the wake of abuse he received over his comment. He writes that having once been "a secret bathing-pool in a magical glade", Twitter had now become a stagnant pool. While adding that abusers were still the minority, Fry said: "just one turd in a reservoir is enough to persuade one not to drink from it. 99.9% of the water may be excrement free, but that doesn't help."

* Following the suicide of her father, actor Robin Williams, in 2014, Zelda Williams closed her Twitter account after the actress was inundated with words and images about his death. Ms Williams reported a number of users over the abuse, many of whom had their accounts suspended, however she soon confirmed she would be deleting her account "for a good long time." She did however return three weeks later.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

* In 2013, feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez received death threats as well as threats of sexual violence from Twitter users - two of which were later prosecuted - after she led a campaign to have Jane Austen replace Charles Darwin on the £10 note.

* In an attempt to open the site up to more users, speculation began to mount in early 2016 that Twitter was considering dropping its 140-character limit on tweets. A similar move had already been applied to Direct Messages between two users, however Twitter users quickly condemned the rumours, with many suggesting the site was trying too hard to mimic Facebook's format. Comparisons with the other social network have been at the centre of some criticism of Twitter, which has 320 million users compared with Facebook's 1.5 billion.