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Tweeting is a term that refers to posting on the microblog social networking website called Twitter®. The posts are limited to 140 characters each and can be restricted to followers or displayed for anyone to see, even Internet users not logged into Twitter®. Tweeting can be used to chat about everyday happenings, for Internet marketing purposes, and more. This social networking website has been criticized for encouraging people to talk about trivial things, like what a user had for breakfast. Some or even all of Twitter® is banned or blocked in some countries, including China and South Korea.
Although tweeting on Twitter® is fairly simple, the website has more advanced capabilities. For example, users can group tweets by utilizing hashtags. If a user tweets about school, he or she might put #school at the beginning or end of the tweet. Likewise, if a user wants to tweet about or to another Twitter® user, he or she can use the @ symbol before the other user’s name. Twitter® users can also repost, also known as retweeting, messages posted by other users.
One user’s reason for tweeting may be completely different than the next user’s reason. Some people tweet to keep their family and friends updated on significant life events, their whereabouts, and to interact with other people. Other Twitter® users tweet primarily as a marketing technique to boost brand awareness or product sales. Sometimes game developers tweet to inform gamers on potential downtime and progress on unexpected technical difficulties.
Millions of tweets are exchanged every day on Twitter®, but many of these tweets are often deemed not worth reading. Many people criticize Twitter® and Twitter® users for enabling, encouraging, or engaging in pointless babble. In fact, a 2009 survey analyzed thousands of tweets and concluded that 40 percent constituted small talk, while 38 percent was actual conversation. The next most popular kind of tweet was the retweet at 9 percent, in which a user reposted a tweet. Even though small talk is exchanged roughly as much as conversation and spam and self-promotion tweets are a minority, tweeting continues to be widely criticized.
Censorship of Twitter® has taken place in several countries, including Iran, China, and Egypt. These bans or blocks are sometimes not permanent or do not cover all of Twitter®. Occasionally, people in countries with a government that disapproves of Twitter® manage to tweet anyway. In at least one case, this resulted in the tweeter being sentenced to a labor camp for one year.