Twitter marks ninth birthday

Social media giant Twitter celebrates its ninth birthday on March 21, and to mark the occasion the site has been recalling some of the biggest posts from its history.

The very first tweet came from co-founder Jack Dorsey, back when the service did not use vowels in its official name – “Just setting up my twttr”, he wrote on March 21 2006.

Since then the micro-blogging site has grown to more than 284 million users worldwide, with over 15 million based in the UK.

Most major events and even TV shows now come with their own hashtag, as organisers look to increase their online presence and get people talking and promoting their event.

The first suggestion for using a hashtag as a means of a creating a group conversation regarding a single event came in 2007 from early Twitter user Chris Messina, who suggested they would be useful for linking comments on the same issues and creating shared messages.

The concept of trending has since become the biggest barometer of relevance on social media.

Breaking news has also been a large part of Twitter’s usage for some years now, with the 2008 news that the Mars Phoenix Lander had found ice on Mars being tweeted by NASA as their way of revealing the find.

The US Airways flight that was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson river in New York in 2009 was also first reported on Twitter, with images of passengers on life rafts and stood on the wings of the plane being re-tweeted and then picked up by news organisations.

Clarence House created their official account in order to confirm Prince William’s engagement in 2010.

“The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton”, said the post, that came just a day after the account had tweeted for the first time, informing users it would provide updates on the Prince of Wales and his sons.

Barack Obama used the site to confirm his second term as US president even before appearing publicly; tweeting a photo of he and wife Michelle hugging, with the caption “Four more years” after a successful election campaign in 2012.

This image was the most re-tweeted in the site’s history until last year, when US TV personality Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie with stars including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was posted during the awards ceremony.

It has been re-tweeted more than three million times since.

The site has also been the source of entire movements; an image of the phrase Je Suis Charlie as the Charlie Hebdo attacks unfolded earlier this year became the rallying cry for free speech at marches after the event.

Twitter still has significantly fewer users than Facebook, with the social network which was co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg boasting more than 1.3 billion users worldwide.

As a result, Twitter has been taking steps to try and improve user engagement in recent months, including attempting to tighten up the systems for reporting abuse, as well as adding content from users members do not already follow to timelines to widen debate.