Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 17:47 UK

The tweet heard around the world

"What are you doing?" This simple question has been taken to new heights by users of micro-blogging site Twitter.

Plane in Hudson
A Twitter user posted this picture minutes after the plane crash

The site is being used as a tool by politicians, celebrities as well as citizen and real journalists to make the news.

In mid-January, 2009 the first pictures of the US Airways Airbus A320 that came down in New York's Hudson River appeared on Twitter just minutes after the splash landing.

The news media has plugged in and is now using Twitter as a way to provide audiences with live information, such as during the G20.


When Click first reported on the social media site two years ago, co-founder Biz Stone said the idea was to "tune in and see what your friends are up to and vice versa".

"The essential idea for Twitter came from the idea of a status message from an instant message application," he said.

But users of the site are now also meeting face-to-face in Twestivals organised for charity in almost 200 cities around the world.

Twitter is still small in comparison to social networking giants such as MySpace and Facebook, but it has built up a loyal and high-profile following.

The basic idea is you can and tune in and see what your friends are up to and vice versa
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone

Star popularity

Barack Obama used it during his presidential campaign to put our messages and to direct supporters to his live speeches.

No 10 Downing Street, the site for UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, appears to be watching a big snapshot of conversations too.

Celebrities such as Britney Spears, Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry have all jumped on the bandwagon and keep fans in the know.

But the size of personal following is what counts for some stars - actor Ashton Kutcher launched a very public campaign on YouTube.

His goal, which he has now reached, was to be the first person to amass one million fans on Twitter.


The recent endorsement from celebrities has boosted the site's profile and their stats, but not everyone is convinced.

Britney Spears on Twitter
The singer is one of many stars who use the site to interact with fans

"It's self-indulgent nonsense for the Big Brother generation," said blogger Neil Woodcock.

"It will either die a death or it will get taken over by some corporate giant and used to flog us more mobile phones," he predicted.

The web 2.0 business model has seen popular social networking sites sell out to a bigger company which turns eyeballs into advertising revenue.

When quizzed over Twitter's future, co-founder Biz Stone said: "What we are really actually thinking about is remaining independent, building our business."

"That being said we are always talking to other companies we are always engaged in conversations," he added.

But the brand's value is still growing, partly thanks to third parties launching web apps like desktop client Twhirl, mobile client Twitterific, and others, such as Dabr, Slandr and Tweetie, which allow remote access.

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