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Challenge 7 Social Media:

The social media I chose to explore was Twitter.  My personal use of social media has been limited mainly to Facebook.   However, lately I have had a curiosity and interest with Twitter. 

Twitter, is a social media networking service and  microblogging service which allows participants to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as "tweets". 

It's features include: tweets, content, format, trending topics, adding and following content, verification, mobile apps, and authentication service. 

User tweets are publicly visible, but users can restrict message delivery to just their followers. In addition, users can tweet via the Twitter website, or Short Message Service (SMS).  While the service is free, accessing it through SMS may create phone service provider fees.  Additionally, users may subscribe to other users' tweets – this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers or tweeps. The users can also check the people who are un-subscribing them on Twitter better known as unfollowing via various services. Moreover, users have the capability to block those who have followed them.  Twitter also allows users the ability to update their profile by using their mobile phone either by text messaging or by apps released for certain smartphones and tablets.  Furthermore, Twitter has been compared to a web-based Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client.  As a social network, Twitter revolves around the principle of followers. When you choose to follow another Twitter user, that user's tweets appear in reverse chronological order on your main Twitter page. If you follow 20 people, you'll see a mix of tweets scrolling down the page: breakfast-cereal updates, interesting new links, music recommendations, even musings on the future of education.

Twitter content can be broken into six categories:
Pointless babble – 40%
Conversational – 38%
Pass-along value – 9%
Self-promotion – 6%
Spam – 4%
News – 4%

Twitter users can group posts together by topic or type using hashtags.  Hashtags are words or phrases prefixed with a "#" sign. Similarly, the "@" sign followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other users. To repost a message from another Twitter user, and share it with one's own followers, the retweet function is symbolized by "RT" in the message.

A word, phrase or topic that is tagged at a greater rate than other tags is said to be a trending topic. Trending topics become popular either through a concerted effort by users or because of an event that prompts people to talk about one specific topic. These topics help Twitter and their users to understand what is happening in the world.

Trending topics are sometimes the result of concerted efforts by fans of certain celebrities or cultural phenomena, particularly Lady Gaga (known as Monsters), Justin Bieber (Beliebers) and fans of the Twilight (Twihards) and Harry Potter (Potterheads) novels. Twitter have altered the trend algorithm in the past to prevent manipulation of this type.

There are numerous tools for adding content, monitoring content and conversations including Twitvid (video sharing), TweetDeck, Salesforce.com, HootSuite, and Twitterfeed.

Additionally, Twitter has an account verification system which allows celebrities to get their accounts verified, a mobile


There is also a  mobile version of Twitter, mobile.twitter.com.  Also,
Twitter has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Nokia S40. There is also version of the website for mobile devices as well as SMS and MMS service.

Third-party Twitter applications are required to use OAuth, an authentication method that does not require users to enter their password into the authenticating application. It is now compulsory and the user-name/password authentication method has been made redundant and is no longer functional. Twitter stated that the move to OAuth will mean "increased security and a better experience".
Info obtained from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter.

My interview with a sixth grader at a middle school I recently subbed at with regards to twitter yielded mixed emotions about the service.  The sixth grader stated that he likes it better then other social media services like Facebook.  He likes the text-based feature of Twitter which makes following the tweets easier then what he refers to as the "junk" that comes with user posts on Facebook (i.e. game photos, political ad's, etc).  Another complaint he had was the number of "fake" user accounts that are out there.  He said you have be selective of what information is reliable and what isn't.  On the positive side, he noted the ability to use Twitter to obtain information quickly, and connect with friends, family and other students.  Overall, he stated Twitter was his choice of social networking.

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