What is Twitter?


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What is Twitter?

The Twitter logo and a speech bubble

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Have you ever wondered what a tweet or a retweet is? This activity will provide you with an outline of the Twitter social media platform. You will learn what the platform is used for and how people using the platform interact with each other.

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So, what is Twitter?

Twitter is one of the world’s largest and most widely used social media apps. The premise of Twitter is simple: users share their thoughts with their followers via small snippets of text called tweets.

Tweets can have a maximum of 280 characters and can consist of text, photos or short videos.

The Twitter logo
Twitter on a range of devices

Accessing the Twitter platform

Twitter can be used on a desktop or laptop computer and can be accessed by typing https//twitter.com into the address bar of your web page.

Alternatively, Twitter can be accessed on mobile devices via an official app.

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eSafety Tip

Only download apps to your mobile device from either the official App Store for Apple devices, or the Google Play Store for Android devices. Before you download an app, check its authenticity by looking at the:

  • App’s publisher
  • Star rating given to the app by others
  • Reviews written by those who have downloaded the app.
Someone tweeting on a mobile device

How it works

When a Twitter user posts a tweet, it can be seen by other users who follow that person. The tweet will appear on each follower’s Timeline, also known as a feed.

Users can simply view a tweet in their feed or they can interact with it by:

  • Liking: showing appreciation by giving the tweet a thumbs up
  • Replying: Commenting on someone’s tweet
  • Retweeting: Showing appreciation by sharing the tweet with their own followers
  • Quoting: Sharing a tweet and adding their own commentary with their own followers
  • Sharing: sharing a tweet outside of the Twitter platform.

The Timeline

Tweets from accounts and Twitter users you follow appear on your Home screen in the Timeline.

Your Timeline will also display content related to the interests you nominated when you signed up to Twitter.

Like all other social media platforms, Twitter makes money from advertising revenue. Many of the adverts Twitter inserts into your Timeline should be relevant to your interests, but some may not. You can learn how to personalise the ads you see in the Controlling your Twitter privacy settings activity later in this course.

A post on the Twitter timeline
A diagram outlining the difference between followers and those who follow on Twitter

Following and Followers

Content on Twitter is shared and viewed by a follow system. When you sign up to Twitter, you are prompted to specify some areas of interest, and you are then shown some user accounts that you may wish to Follow based on your nominated interests.

Likewise, other Twitter users can follow your account so that your tweets and content appear on their Timeline. These users are known as your Followers.

The Home screen icons

The Twitter Home screen has four icons that allow you to access:

  • The Home screen, where you’ll find your Timeline, which displays tweets and content.
  • The Search function, where you can find new content and users by using specific keywords or by trending topics
  • Notifications let you see messages from Twitter about users who have interacted with your tweets and content.
  • Messages that let you communicate with other users via private messages.
The homescreen and the Home, Search, Notifications and Messages icons
The Profile menu on Twitter

The Profile menu

Wherever you are on the Twitter platform, you’ll be able to see the profile menu in the top-left corner of the screen. It looks like three stacked horizontal lines, also known as the hamburger menu. From here, you can see:

  • How many users are following you
  • How many users you are following
  • Links to your profile and personal information
  • The Settings and privacy menu
  • The Help Center (Twitter is a US company, so they use the US spelling).
The Twitter logo

Well done!

This is the end of the What is Twitter? activity. You should now have a broad understanding of the Twitter platform, what it is used for and how you can navigate around on Twitter.

Next up, you’ll learn how to sign up to Twitter in the How to create a Twitter account activity.