A brief history of Twitter—in tweets

November 4, 2013

Billions of messages are fired off each week via Twitter, many of which capture defining moments in history, or in the evolution of the San Francisco-based firm.

Below is a sampling of 10 memorable tweets since the Twitter era began.

"just setting up my twttr"


March 2006

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent the first , an automated message saying "just setting up my twttr." That same day, he sent the first live tweet, "inviting coworkers."




April 2008

US university student James Buck got off a one-word tweet after being taken into custody by Egyptian authorities at an anti-government protest in that country. In what is seen as an early demonstration of the power of Twitter to rally people to a cause, the resulting outcry prompted authorities to quickly restore his liberty. He proclaimed his release in a tweet reading "Free."


"There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy."


January 2009

A US Airways jet crash-landed on the Hudson River in New York. This tweet and others by witnesses and passengers was accompanied by a link to a picture of the scene, breaking the news well ahead of mainstream media outlets.




April 2009

Talk show queen and media royalty Oprah Winfrey took Twitter mainstream with her debut post and now has more than 21 million followers.


"From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!"


Astronaut Mike Massimino makes history with the first tweet from space.


"Twitter Revolution"

June 2009

Not a specific tweet, but an unofficial name given to a bold movement by thousands of Iranians who took to the streets to protest what they saw as a rigged presidential election and used Twitter to thwart government efforts to block them from communicating with one another and the world. Two years later, Twitter would become a vital tool used in "Arab Spring" series of uprisings in an array of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


"Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)."


May 2011

IT consultant Sohaib Athar unknowingly tweeted about US Navy Seals raiding a nearby home in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was hiding. Bin Laden was killed during the operation.


"Four more years"


November 2012

US President Obama put out word of his election victory along with a picture of him and his wife, Michelle, hugging. The post was "retweeted" more than 800,000 times, becoming the most shared Twitter message to date.


"Dear , I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."


December 2012

Pope Benedict XVI launched the first papal Twitter account, which was continued by his successor, Pope Francis. The English-language papal account has more than three million followers, and a Spanish-language version four million.


"Power Out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark."


February 2013

A tweet fired off by the makers of Oreo cookies when a power outage interrupted the American football spectacle known as the Super Bowl was an instant hit, demonstrating the potential of Twitter to adapt cleverly to the real-time messaging platform.


"Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

April 2013

Hackers from a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army commandeered a news wire account and posted this bogus message, showing that Twitter has become such a trusted place for the latest information that it had become a target.

Explore further: Twitter marked by rapid rise since launch

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Twitter, which Thursday revealed its plans to go public, came to life on March 21, 2006 when co-founder Jack Dorsey's account (@jack) automatically sent out the first tweet, which read: "just setting up my twttr."

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