April 15, 2009
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Twitter's Popularity Soars
Twitter's popularity is surging, thanks in part to constant news stories about Twitter's surging popularity, stories not unlike this one. According to ComScore Media Metrix data for March, the number of visitors to Twitter.com reached 9.3 million, an increase of more than 5 million visitors, or 131%, from February. In a blog post on Wednesday, ComScore's Andrew Lipsman agrees that there appears to be some truth to the belief that media attention is fueling Twitter's growth. "[T]here may certainly be some merit to that," he said. "It seems you can't get through a typical newscast anymore without some mention of Twitter." He points to Newt Gingrich's use of Twitter to criticize President Obama's handling of the Somali pirate crisis, to the use of Twitter by CNN's Rick Sanchez, and to the role Twitter played in recent national and international news stories as signs that the service has become an important mode of mass communication. Lipsman observes that Twitter users are news junkies, visiting top online news sites two to three times more often than the average person. And he suggests that Twitter's attractiveness to avid news consumers is driving its growth in conjunction with the news media's use of and focus on Twitter. "Like it or not, Twitter is quickly revolutionizing the way our entire news ecosystem operates, from journalist to consumer, and blurring the lines in between," he said. However, such popularity isn't without its downside. Aside from the challenge faced by Twitter to make sure its infrastructure can handle stardom, the site also must endure increasing attention from cybercriminals, who see profit in Twitter's timeliness, reach, and viral nature. Over the weekend, a computer worm spread on Twitter, generating almost 10,000 spam tweets and compromising at least 190 accounts. And other such incidents have disrupted Twitter in recent months as well.
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