The Brief: Twitter is a social media networking site in which users create posts that are 240 characters or less along with photos and videos.

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Twitter is a social media networking site where users can post 240 characters or less along with photos, videos, emojis, and/or GIFs. For many users, Twitter is a source of news, political discourse, and comedy, as well as a tool for personal communication and self-expression.

Terminology

Handle

A Twitter handle is someone’s public username. They all begin with the @ symbol.

Retweet

When someone sees a tweet they like or agree with, they can retweet it: repost it from their own account while giving full credit to the original source.

Reply

Users can “reply” to a tweet, by creating a tweet that automatically tags the person who made the tweet, creating or adding to a thread.

Thread

A thread is a tweet followed by one or more replies. It can consist of one person’s comments, in which they reply to their own tweet to elaborate on it. A thread can also be made up of many people’s replies to an original tweet.

Live Tweet

To “live tweet” an event or a film means to make multiple tweets in real-time while watching an event IRL or on television.

Hashtags

Any word or phrase can be made into a hashtag when the # symbol is added to it. Hashtags are typically used so that people can find Tweets about a certain topic or trend. Some hashtags are quite popular and have gone viral such as #WCW #MondayMotivation, and #TBT. Other hashtags including #MeToo, #EverydayRacism, and #IfIDieInASchoolShooting are tools of communication for activist movements. Political hashtags such as #MAGA, #TakeItBack, and #Blexit are used for online campaigning and political organizing.

Celebrities On Twitter

Anyone can make a Twitter account, but the most followed accounts are those of already well-known celebrities. Currently, the top 5 most-followed Twitter accounts belong to Katy Perry (@katyperry), Justin Bieber (@justinbieber), Barack Obama (@BarackObama), Rihanna (@rihanna) and Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13). Celebrities and public figures have blue checkmarks next to their Twitter handle, indicating that their account has been officially verified.

President Donald Trump is well-known for his Twitter presence where he has made national announcements, insulted politicians, reposted memes, and more. He has a total of over 75 million followers on his two accounts: @POTUS and @realDonaldTrump.

Twitter Memes

Twitter memes can be started intentionally and unintentionally. Some Twitter memes consist of exploitable formats such as Who Gon Check Me Boo, Don’t Say It, and Teacup Memes. Other Twitter memes have started when a Tweet goes viral and people then respond to and riff on it. Examples of this include Cardi B‘s “I will dog walk you” comment and Elon Musk’s “Host meme review” tweet. Some brands have surprisingly on fleek Twitter presences when it comes to memes including Wendy’s, Moon Pie, and SunnyD.

Questionable Content: Hate Speech, NSFW Images, etc.

Twitter has had some issues with the proliferation of hate speech. Such content can be reported by any user. Some accounts with a longstanding history of promoting hate speech, fake news, and misinformation have been permanently banned from the platform.

NSFW content is allowed on Twitter. This includes pornographic images, videos, and text. Such content is usually labeled, but can still appear in one’s feed.

Users can set their accounts to block what Twitter calls “sensitive content” which includes violence and pornography.

Safety & Privacy

Twitter allows users to make either public and private accounts. Public accounts are typically more popular as they gather more followers and allow for retweets. The minimum age to use Twitter is 13. The implementation of general safety and privacy practices can help facilitate a more safe experience on the site.  Read more about Twitter’s specific safety and security measures here.

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