Twitter

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.


"Brevity is the soul of wit."
Shakespeare, Hamlet (follow his Twitter here)
"passive aggressive pissy angry village of spoiled brats and people who think they're famous."
—The top definition for the site on Urban Dictionary as of September 30, 2022

𝕏 (called Twitter before July 24, 2023) is a microblogging and social networking service created by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006 and launched in July of that year. On Twitter, registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, which can be anything from mundane reporting on one's life, a wry one-liner, or the start of an Internet campaign that will snowball and end up with international media coverage. Really, for 280 characters - which used to be 140 until near the end of 2017 - there's lots of potential.

By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and has been described as "the SMS of the Internet". At the start of 2019, Twitter had more than 330 million monthly active users, though in practice the vast majority of tweets are written by a minority of users. In 2022, the site was acquired by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk - the circumstances of the acquisition and decisions made following it have been the source of major criticism from the userbase, up to and including even the former CEO, and ultimately made a lot of people very unhappy and been regarded as a bad move.

The site's open, public API allows for its adaptation and use on many different platforms. Android, iPhone, browser extension, desktop software, mobile phone... you can tweet from just about every device going. Hell, you can even monitor tweets with a typewriter! The real-time search function allows you to search all (public) tweets being made for any word or phrase you wish, and is one of the most popular aspects of the site. This is combined with the "trending topics", a list of the ten most popular topics at the moment, based on how much they're being tweeted about.

Twitter is notable for being one of the first Friending Network-type sites (aside from work-oriented LinkedIn) in which thirty-something media professionals outnumber teenagers. It also helps that the age range of the userbase is incredibly varied, from the 16-year-old intermittent poster to the 50-year-old Twitter addict. On the note of teenagers, Twitter is naturally also a major hub for a significant chunk of fandom: tropes abound in abundance as posts and threads circulate about users' favorite works and their attempts to analyze them, and a plethora of themed and sometimes-weirdly-specific accounts are dedicated to specific subjects, tropes and other happenings - all with varying quality and results, for better and for worse.

Twitter has a particular penchant for the worse, which is as much a result of Twitter's pre-existing reputation as Internet Backdraft central as it is a consequence of said fans' actions - such a dynamic became even more pronounced after Tumblr's ban of NSFW content on December 17th, 2018, as the exodus drove many of the site's former users to Twitter.

Since its inception, Twitter has gone from just a major source of media attention to a major fixture of society comparable to Facebook Meta, and has been used for various purposes from people organizing protests and civil disobedience to governments engaging with foreign publics and their own citizens. Major events tend to be covered rapidly through the system, and practically every celebrity in Hollywood has a Twitter account.

Or at least it used to be that way. In early 2023 Elon Musk bought Twitter, allegedly with the goal of eliminating a possibly-imaginary "liberal bias" in its content, and immediately began gutting it, doing things like firing 90% of its staff, reducing the press department to a bot which automatically replies to all emails with a "poop" emoji, eliminating the trustworthiness of the "verified user" blue check flag, deciding to charge several thousand US dollars a month for access to the API, outright threatening large corporate users like NPR and advertisers alike for leaving the platform, requiring people to be logged-in to read tweets (which requires people to have accounts), limiting the number of tweets than can be read each day, and in late-July renaming the platform to "𝕏". As of late-spring 2023, it appears to be heading for a death spiral — whether this is intentional or a consequence of apparently-incompetent management on Musk's part is unclear.

You can follow All The Tropes on Twitter, or browse All The Tropes "Twitter-style" in the Laconic namespace.

Not to be confused with the approximately dozen other works and creators named X.

Works that originated in part or in whole on Twitter include the following:
Twitter is the Trope Namer for:
  • First World Problems: The trope name originated from a Twitter hashtag, and the site itself is an excellent platform for short moanings about daily life and our miserable existences by people who are generally well-enough off.
Tropes found on Twitter and among its various users and viral tweets include:
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Microsoft learned this the hard way when they launched Tay AI on Twitter and other social networks. Posting under the username @TayandYou, Tay AI was an experimental learning chatbot with an emoji-laced, stereotypical semi-literate teen vocabulary («hellooooooo w🌎rld!!!») that was meant to learn how to chat from the Internet and become more literate. It worked - the AI quickly fell into shitposting, to lots of embarrassment and booing and hissing from all sides (if not simultaneously).
  • Alt Text: Twitter uses this as an accessibility feature, particularly to describe images for blind or otherwise sight-impaired users that use screen readers.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Parodied with the DeepLeffen bot account. The bot is designed to mimic and exaggerate the behavior of Super Smash Bros. Melee pro player Leffen, who has a reputation for arrogance and belittling of other players in the Melee community (particularly on the Internet) to the point of being banned for a year from European tournaments in February 2013.
  • Augmented Reality Game: Some games and other works such as Deltarune and Zombies, Run! occasionally use Twitter as part of one.
  • Bait and Switch: Employed in many a classic viral tweet such as this.

@radtoria: People who are offended when I breastfeed in public need to STFU. What I'm doing is natural and strengthens the bond between me and my dog.

  • Banned in China: Twitter is among the many sites blocked or heavily filtered by China's "Great Firewall".
  • Beige Prose: While many a user tends towards multi-tweet threads on multiple subjects, it's still impressive how much you can say within 280 characters.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: According to the Terms of Service; Didn't Read website, Twitter "ignores the Do Not Track (DNT) header and tracks users anyway even if they set this header".
  • Broken Pedestal: Common to the point of being ubiquitous - it's said to "never meet your heroes" for a reason.
    • A lot of popular users are also self-conscious of their reach and influence, and some will go to absurd lengths in order to prevent this trope and preserve it from what they believe to be threats. That's all to be said about that.
  • CamelCase: Used for hashtags and more commonly usernames.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Between the sizable RP community that existed back in the day and the early celeb presence on the site, this was bound to happen - one particularly weird example involved Tom Hiddleston, best known as The Mighty Thor's trickster sibling Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, interacting with a Loki roleplay account.
  • Character Blog: There's a sizeable roleplay community present on Twitter - look for the telltale "[RP]" or "role-played" somewhere in their profile. Some companies have also made similar accounts for characters that they own as well. You can see a list of some of them here.
  • Colbert Bump: A big part of why Twitter is so popular has to do with celebrities having taken to it so enthusiastically. And unlike most trendy things celebrities do, there's a (semi-)practical benefit to ordinary people following suit: People can now address their tweets directly to them, and supposedly even get their attention this way.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Back when Twitter had a 140 character limit, if you tried to make a tweet with more characters and click at the nick of time, it would read "Your tweet was over 140 characters. You'll have to be more clever".
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Twitter amused more than a few Brits when it was launched, with "twit" being a very mild term for "idiot". Downplayed due to not being a particularly offensive example, as well as the fact that "Twit" is also equally known as a mild form of "idiot" or "ditz" in the States. "Twitter" also means (or at least meant) to rabbit on inanely without really engaging a brain (i.e., "What are you twittering on about now?"), whether yours or someone else's.
  • Discredited Meme: Twitter was once reputed to be a "graveyard" site for older memes.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: There's no shortage of gimmick accounts that describe exactly what they post, no matter how specific - for example, this account is dedicated to posting a specific panel from the Tintin comics every Wednesday.
  • Fan Girl: Practically a given.
    • For several weeks on end in early 2011, the list of Twitter's trending topics almost always included Justin Bieber - at least until Twitter supposedly banned his name from trending, and his fans made "let Bieber trend" a trend instead. When they were no longer able to do that, they resorted to trends like "Bustin Jieber". Still, Justin Bieber-related topics trended almost every day for a while, and in 2012 they were joined by topics about British-Irish boy band One Direction.
    • The Jonas Brothers, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga get plenty of trends, too.
  • Food Porn: A common subject of tweets in Twitter's early days.
  • Forced Meme: It's also not uncommon for people to try and brute-force their way into the trending tab.
    • In 2011, WWE caught onto the whole idea that social networking could actually be a good thing to raise the profile of their company. They responded by promoting the hell out of Twitter on their shows and trying to turn everything into a Trending Topic, arguably to the detriment of their actual product. This reached its logical conclusion in December 2011, a "Trending Topic Match" where the winner was not the first wrestler to score a pinfall or submission, but the first wrestler to trend on Twitter.
  • Going Mobile: Twitter has an app for mobile users, so users can tweet on the go.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: My New Band is a feed of such suggested names, thought it's been inactive since 2014.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Some brands and media with Twitter accounts occasionally use this as a form of promotion or else as entertainment. Examples include:
  • I Am Spartacus: After Paul Chambers lost his appeal against his conviction for tweeting a joke about blowing up Robin Hood airport (known as the "Twitter joke trial"), people began retweeting the original message en masse with this attached as a hashtag.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Twitter is home to many such accounts, ranging from mundane-but-popular account Jorts the Cat to figures like Versailles member and visual kei metal musician Hizaki.
  • Little-Known Facts:
    • The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have used Twitter hashtags to make fun of dubious statements by political figures that evoked this trope - such statements include Senator Jon Kyl stating that his claim that abortions constitutes well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does was "not intended to be a factual statement", Sarah Palin getting Paul Revere's story wrong, and Herman Cain's particularly infamous statement: "I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration".
    • In 2011, local elections in Italy featured two main contenders for the role of mayor in Milan (the second most important city in the country): incumbent centre-right mayor Letizia Moratti (heavily sponsored by Berlusconi) and centre-left candidate Giuliano Pisapia. In a public TV confrontation, Moratti accused Pisapia of being a car thief, a communist and on friendly terms with left-wing extremists, hoping to scare people into not voting for him. Instead, it gave birth to "Pisapia facts": people on Twitter as well as Facebook and various other websites started churning out incredibly exaggerated accusations against Pisapia, with the implicit assumption that they could have been told by Moratti. At the end of the campaign, people were laughing so much that nobody was able to consider Moratti seriously anymore, resulting in her defeat.
  • Live but Delayed: As with most social media, this trope and Twitter don't mix well for those looking to not be spoiled while viewing live airings of their favorite shows.
  • New Media Are Evil:
    • Subverted to hell and back by old media's reaction to Twitter. They are crazy for it, and pretty much every old-media organization had set up multiple Twitter accounts (plus dozens of individual personal accounts for employees) before it even really caught on. See also Small Reference Pools, below.
    • Played straighter by some younger media -- for example, read the hilariously hypocritical message board rants against it. Boo, any interpersonal e-communication that isn't e-mail... wait...
  • News Travels Fast: More than possible through the power of social media dynamics.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Truth in Television here, since it's social media - a phrase for this trope particular to Twitter and some other sites is "posting through it", used when someone doubles down repeatedly on a statement that is seen as offensive, dubious and/or outright incorrect. Said effect tends to snowball harder when notable figures or celebrities of any kind engage in it.
  • Oh Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us: All but inevitable with the presence of creatives on the site.
  • Old Media Playing Catch Up: Particularly, catching up with Twitter's ability to ignite Internet Counterattacks.
  • Only in Florida: The Florida Man account popularized this trope. It was created by Freddie Campion and ran from 2013 until he retired the account in 2019 in the face of growing unease regarding its effects on local news reporting and the moral implications that it carried; this 2019 news story in the Washington Post explores the Twitter account and its role in the larger phenomenon.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Poor opsec of this sort has no doubt resulted in a few 'hacked' Twitter feeds.
    • In 2020, a Dutch "hacker" (the term should be used loosely here) named Victor Gevers was able to break into Donald Trump's Twitter account by guessing that the password was... "MAGA2020", Trump's campaign slogan. (By Gevers' own admission, it took only five guesses.) Adding insult to injury, Gevers claims this was the second time he hacked Trump's account, the first being six years ago where he guessed it was "yourfired" - as in, Trump's Catch Phrase from The Apprentice.
  • Please Select New City Hashtag: Sometimes hashtags collide. For instance, #btv had been used primarily for discussions pertaining to Burlington, Vermont (from the city's airport code), until a massive influx of Arabic-language posts in early 2011 referring to Bahrain Television, after which the Burlington folks switched to #bvt.
  • Propaganda Machine: Near the end of March 2021, Amazon was caught out running an astroturf campaign using bot accounts to try and derail the momentum of a still-growing employee unionization movement. While their role in anti-union efforts against their workers were well-known by this point, this particular attempt was blatantly obvious - the linked thread details numerous examples (such as one "user" taking their avatar from a quickly-Googled band promo). The attempt was so counter-productive that some users took to altering their display names and/or Twitter bios to look vaguely similar to the bots while calling Amazon out.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!:
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Kevin Smith and Neil Gaiman played this up in their interactions on Twitter - they're real-life friends and fans of each other's work.
  • Small Reference Pools:
    • The BBC in particular is obsessed to an indescribable degree with Twitter. Any news that can possibly be related to anything to do with technology or society in general, never mind the Internet, is determinedly dragged around by its news interviewers to the subject of Twitter, often leading to the more net-savvy interviewees becoming bewildered.
    • CNN had a Twitter problem to the point that the The Daily Show had taken to mocking them for it.
    • Twitter users riff on this often, with one particular refrain for this trope stemming from this viral tweet by user @afraidofwasps.

Guy who has only seen The Boss Baby, watching his second movie: Getting a lot of 'Boss Baby' vibes from this...

My "Not involved in human trafficking" T-shirt has people asking a lot of questions already answered by my shirt.

  • Take That: After Elon Musk's purchase and "restructuring" of Twitter, the service's Public Relations department has been reduced to a simple mailbot which replies to all emails with a "poop" emoji.
  • The New Rock and Roll: As with much of then-new social media, particularly near the turn of the decade into The New Tens.
  • The Tetris Effect: In addition to hashtags being nigh-synonymous with Twitter itself, the practice of "@-replies" has spread to other blog comments and forums. From Cheezburger Network's "Failbooking":

OP: It seems like Twitter-style hashtags have replaced HTML-style coding as Internet shorthand for meta-commentary.
Reply: </era>

We've created something that will affect your children's children. Can YOU say the same about YOUR life? #nailedit #bpcares

Twitter and fictional derivatives, Bland-Name Product and otherwise, appear in the following media:

Comic Books

Fan Works

Vegeta: Really should have told Frieza to keep off the Twitter.

  • 'Regular' Twitter also exists In-Universe: when Cell makes his terrifying grand announcement of the Cell Games that will determine the fate of the universe, he helpfully mentions a Twitter hashtag to accompany the event. The Canadian English subtitles used for more humorous captions (compared to the normal captions using the standard English designation) even supplies us with a handful of "actual" Tweets alongside the characters' lines.

Perfect Cell: Be part of the conversation on Twitter at #CellGames!
Yamcha: (looking at his phone) Annnnnd he's already trending.

Literature

  • In the YA book The Unidentified by Rae Mariz that was published in 2010, Twitter has replaced texting as the main form of communication.

New Media

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

  • For April Fools' Day 2010, the TYPE-MOON website added hilarious and very in-character TMitter feeds from their most popular characters to the site, which was retained for April Fools' events in the following years.
  1. making posts invisible to users in many contexts, such as via search
  2. Specifically, Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast data, which also had a Twitter account dedicated to the exchange of said data (now suspended, of course).
  3. As detailed in Big Brother Is Watching above, LibsOfTikTok was unsuspended despite being reported and banned several times for using commentary on drag shows to direct violence and hate towards queer people.
  4. Note that Matt Binder's account was suspended after the date of the archived tweet linked just previously.