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Spotlight: Using Twitter to stay in touch with people, issues, sites

Twitter has been all the rage since its launch in March 2006. It’s part of the so-called microblogging phenomena (also known as “micro-sharing” and “micro-updating”), which allows people to offer 140-character messages in virtually real time using this web-based interface (on their computers, laptops, or web-enabled mobile devices). The Twitter homepage may be accessed at twitter.com.


This site shows what people are “tweeting” about down to the microsecond, for a real-time awareness of popular issues and “sentiment.” The popular sites are represented in text at the bottom part of the site, and these are clickable links to the publicly available tweets. (Monitoring tools are available to track microblog postings for company image management.)

Signing up for a Twitter account involves other benefits — such as the ability to tweet to a general public and to friends who choose to “follow” you (through subscriptions to receive message updates). These messages may be sent via instant messaging, SMS (short message service), RSS (Really Simple Syndication), e-mail, or even to applications like social networking sites — on mobile devices and computers.

How to join Twitter

Click on the “Sign up now” button.  It will take you to the following site where you have to sign in with your name, a Twitter identity, a password, and an e-mail address. There is also a reCAPTCHA (recaptcha.net)  authentication step to prove that you’re not an automated robot trying to create an account. This sign-up may be accessed at twitter.com/signup.


Before signing up, it’s helpful to check the Terms of Service (twitter.com/tos). These address issues of privacy, services, user rights, company rights, copyright, limitations of liability, exclusions, waivers and severability, controlling laws and jurisdictions, and other issues.

After sign-up, Twitter will upload all the contacts from your e-mail account and allow you to identify those on Twitter whose tweets you may want to follow. Twitter also allows users to invite friends to join Twitter based on their e-mail lists.

Its final screen offers a way to follow others who may be of interest to the new tweeter.