10 ways Twitter changed how we use tech

From selfies and celebs, to breaking news and citizen journalism, here’s how Twitter has transformed the role of tech in our everyday life…

21 Mar 2016


Twitter turns 10 today and it’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since the first tweet went out – an update from founder Jack Dorsey that read ‘just setting up my twttr’.

Since then it’s become almost a way of life. Along with our tablets and smartphones, we’ve tweeted our way through breaking news, live events and the selfie-filled world of celebrity. 

So how has Twitter changed the way we use our gadgets? Here’s our pick of the top 10…


1. Always being connected

With its rolling updates, Twitter’s timeline changed the way we stayed connected – making us glued to our screens for fear of missing out.

It’s likely part of the reason why – for many of us – our phones and tablets stay by our sides, and have even become the first thing we look at in the morning and last thing we look at before bed.


2. For sharing selfies

Remember that Ellen Degeneres Oscars selfie? Also known as the most retweeted tweet ever. 

Love it or hate it, there’s no escaping the selfie – to the point where the word has even made it into the dictionary. And Twitter was one of the first platforms where we could share them.

Over the years tech has made it even easier to take a selfie – most smartphones now have a front camera as standard and there are even apps to help you perfect your technique before uploading.

Want to take the perfect holiday selfie? See our guide


3. To get to know our favourite celebs

Twitter was the first platform that let us follow our favourite celebrities. Most celebs now have a public account where they regularly post pictures and snippets of their daily life to our timelines.

It’s even bred a whole new community of superfans – like Rhianna’s #Navy, One #Directioners and #Beliebers.  


4. Using Twitter to propose

It’s not all selfies and celebrities, Twitter can literally be life-changing. Back in 2008, American Greg Rewis used the site to propose to his fiancé Stephanie Sullivan. She replied with a yes and the pair are now married.


5. To find yourself a new job

How about using Twitter to find your next job? Loads of companies post their job vacancies on Twitter as standard – including some of Britain’s top companies. So scrolling through your Timeline on your phone or tablet might be a lot more productive than trawling job sites or handing out your CV.


6. Breaking news – as it happens

When big news broke in the past we’d typically turn on the TV or check out the BBC News website for the latest info. But with Twitter we can watch the news as it unfolds, with eyewitness accounts, pictures and videos direct from the scene.


7. Or become a journalist yourself

With a smartphone camera and a Twitter account, anyone can become a journalist if they happen to be in the right place at the right time. Case in point – the photos and video footage from onlookers used to break the news that a US Airways flight had landed on the Hudson river in 2009.


8. To launch political campaigns

Cast your mind back to the 2015 General Election and a very different kind of ‘spin’ in the form of a teenage ‘Milifan’ – that is an Ed Milliband fangirl. 

At the time 17-year-old Abby said she created the campaign to show just how powerful young people are. Many of us get involved in politics in a way we couldn’t before – from debating with someone at the other end at the country to directly tweeting the Prime Minister.


9. To write in 140 characters

Whether it’s a heartfelt birthday message to your best friend, a big announcement or a quick update on the cheese sandwich you had for lunch – we’ve all got pretty good at expressing ourselves in just 140 characters.

Twitter’s limit has always been pretty iconic – making it easy to scroll through our timelines on the go from our smartphone screens. But for the times when 140 characters won’t cut it, you can always fall back on the Twitter rant, Kanye-style.


10. To get backstage at the biggest events as they’re happening

In 2015 Twitter launched Periscope – a live streaming app that gives you backstage access to some of the biggest events. It’s already been used at the Oscars, Brits and Grammys (to name a few) and shows just how far Twitter’s come from the early days of plain text tweets.

See our guide to live streaming from your smartphone.