Circuit of Culture: Twitter 2007-2010

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Twitter is an application and website used by most people who own technology and the site helps us to communicate and receive news faster than ever before. Today, Twitter sees about 330 million monthly users which is short of only Facebook. In the early days of Twitter, messages and status updates would come through your text messages and looked a lot different than the Twitter we all know today. During these early years, Twitter was still a text-based service where users would text a certain number to send and receive updates but quickly began to rise in popularity as more people saw it. The company saw huge growth during these years and set the stage for where it would go in the future. On this site, we will be diving into the circuit of culture for Twitter between the years of 2007 and 2010. We will examine the company based on production, consumption, identity, representation, and regulation. These aspects of the circuit of culture will show us how Twitter was able to make such a huge leap during this time and how it started in the first place. 

Production

Jack Dorsey’s original drawing of Twitter

As we all know, Twitter is one of the most popular websites or apps available to us today, and without four men working at a podcast platform company, there would be no Twitter. The original idea for Twitter came from a company called ‘Odeo’ who had a platform for podcasts, but when the industry was not going as they thought, they set out to create a new idea. One idea that came up was from an engineer named Jack Dorsey. Dorsey explained his idea of something called ‘Stat.us’ that would allow people to update their friends on what’s going on with them without telling them all separately as you can see on the right. The men who helped Dorsey bring it to life were Evan Williams, Noah Glass, and Biz Stone. While deciding how they would approach creating this service they decided to go with the name Twitter instead of Stat.us. After moving all of their attention towards Twitter instead of Odeo, the company decided to showcase the new service at South by Southwest or SXSW. The service skyrocketed in popularity overnight and they knew they had started something great. The company began to reach new consumers through appearing on talk shows and having an astronaut send a tweet from space. During this time the company also began to see the potential for Twitter to be used as a news outlet. Twitter’s growth during this time was huge even while going through many different CEO’s. Since its creation, Twitter has only grown and will continue to grow in the future.

Consumption

Twitter today sees about 330 million active users each month and continues to grow. People use Twitter for many different things, such as staying updated on the news, watching sports, staying in touch with friends, and updating others on their own lives. From the beginning of Twitter in 2007 to the introduction of ‘new Twitter’ in 2011, Twitter has seen a drastic change in the means and reasons their customers consume the service. In the early stages of Twitter, everything was done over the phone through text messages. When you wanted to add a friend or send something out you would just text a certain number and the service would send it out to whoever followed you. The company saw a huge change however when they began running the service through a website. The website gave Twitter the ability to see who and how many people used the service and also gave the consumers a central place to see their feed. This is when Twitter began to take off, as more people began using the site to create connections through the service it also started to blossom as a news source. Twitter was beginning to be used as a news source for many people and the fact that the service let people give real-time updates gave Twitter a new way to reach consumers.

Link to video “Who is Using Twitter? What is Twitter Most Used for?” https://youtu.be/4aNnAbtWnsA

Identity

The identity of service has seemed to stay consistent throughout the early years of Twitter, just being a platform where someone can go say anything they want to in under 140 characters. However, the identity of Twitter as a company has changed many times throughout its history and especially in the years between 2007 and 2010. Out of the four men who helped create the service in 2006, there is only one still working for the company and that is Jack Dorsey. The men have had many conflicts throughout the years which caused some to leave voluntarily and others not so voluntarily. The company first got its own identity when it broke off from Odeo to make Twitter its own corporation. A year later, co-founder Jack Dorsey was asked to step down as CEO and another co-founder Evan Williams took over. however, in under 3 years, Jack Dorsey was back at Twitter and Evan Williams was asked to step down as CEO. The company has gone through many different CEO’s that have tried to take the company in different directions, but the service still remained a safe place people can go to express their first amendment right on the internet.

Co-founders of Twitter (Jack Dorsey, Biz stone, Noah Glass, and Evan Williams

Representation

Screenshot from Twitter’s policies

The service of Twitter itself represents our basic human right to free speech on the internet. As I stated earlier, the service was originally intended to be a platform for people to give and receive updates on each other’s lives but quickly evolved into a platform where anyone can speak their mind. Twitter is meant to be used by the regular everyday person to see what is going on in the world and give their opinion on whatever they want. The service has always had some regulations on what you can say such as not being able to dox anyone or incite violence. The site is a way for people to give their own unfiltered opinion on anything and the service represents our ability to do so. Twitter Is one of the biggest social platforms in the world and representing something like free speech is a big deal to the company. During the early years of the company around 2007, they decided to not regulate very heavily on Twitter and to let people say and see whatever they want within reason. Twitter represents a source of freedom for every single one of its users and anyone who wants to join by not removing or tampering with anyone’s tweets unless they are against their guidelines. In that way, Twitter also represents America, a place where you can go and have free speech to speak out about anything as long as it is not inciting violence or doxing anyone. On the other hand, Twitter is represented by its users and what they say. As Twitter gives people the opportunity to say whatever they want, there are some things that are harmful to the site that can be sent out by users. Recently, Twitter has come under fire by some of its users and congress for seeming to represent one political party more than another. The company is still trying to manage this but the trust for the service has gone down for many from where it was 10 years ago because of this.

Regulation

As Twitter is seen as a platform that gives them the freedom to express themselves and their ideas, many people have had a very different point of view. The company has recently come under fire for questionable rules and the way they have been carried out. Many different users such as regular people and journalists have had their accounts suspended for expressing their right-wing views. Dorsey continues to speak for Twitter explaining that they have had these regulations for years and only suspend or block people that break these guidelines. As you can see on the right, the company does not allow certain types of expression on their service including inciting violence, doxing, abuse, and promoting terrorism among many others. These guidelines are put in place to keep everyone that uses their service safe and to keep violent acts from happening as a result of using it. The early years of Twitter saw much less regulation on user accounts. When the service was used over text message, there was no restriction on what users could say but once the service grew into a website and app the company decided it was time to add more rules. The rules they created have changed over the years to stay up to date with society and culture. Twitter continues to try and make its rules more transparent and fair to every one of its users. As many people and even congress push Twitter to be more transparent about its guidelines, the company is trying to become more open about how and why they enforce these rules. Although there are many people who are critical of them, the guidelines are necessary to keep Twitter safe for all of its users and make sure anyone who continues to break them should have consequences.

CEO Jack Dorsey speaks on Hate speech and regulation

In Conclusion,

Twitter has seen a huge increase in users from the years 2007 through 2010 and did so despite critical feedback from users on regulation and inconsistent leadership. The service itself also made huge leaps from being a text-based service that was only meant for status updates to becoming one of the biggest outlets and news sources for people today. From examining Twitter through the circuit of culture we find out just how they became the company they are today. The production of Twitter helps us dive into how they came up with the idea of Twitter and how the four founders made it the huge platform it is today. Examining Twitter’s consumption helps us find out who and why people are using the service during these early years. It also helps us see how the means of consumption for the service changed over this period going from a text-based service to a website and application. Twitter as a company, however, sometimes struggled with keeping a single identity. The company went through many different CEO’s during this time that did not hold the same view for developing Twitter. This did not affect the identity of the service itself though, it continued to be a free place of expression for its users. Along with the service’s identity, the company wants Twitter to represent freedom of expression on the internet for its users. The service is also represented by its users which helps us one of their needs for regulation. Along with the company’s identity, its regulation has been inconsistent at times also. They are firm on their rules in order to protect their users and will do so by any means necessary. These aspects of the circuit of culture give us an inside look into Twitter from 2007 through 2010 and help us find out how they came to be the platform they are today.

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