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Nailing down the topics popular on Twitter is only slightly less difficult than getting involved in a land war in Asia. Since its founding in 2006, Twitter has become the source for what’s hot right now. Politicians have seen their careers rise and fall through Twitter, and masterful marketers know that it’s the place to be. Revolutions have been documented and Beliebers have been made all in the span of 140 characters.
Politics isn’t always big on Twitter, but when it is, it’s huge. During an election or a political debate, people of every perspective jump online to share the entirety of their beliefs in 140 characters. Some events stir the world, like the Arab Spring that swept through Egypt, Syria and Iran. Other political events are less important, but more can garner more Twitter attention, like the exploits of one Anthony Weiner and his unfortunate photograph sharing. The political power of Twitter is akin to that of a bullhorn: It doesn’t change the message; it just amplifies it.
When is the new iPad coming out? What’s the rumor about Google Glass? What will happen with Microsoft’s next operating system? Odds are good that you can find the answers to those questions on Twitter. You might even be able to get the answer from one of the founders of the company, if you’re lucky. But with the fast-moving technology world, secrets don’t last very long. They get posted to Twitter shortly after they’re uttered and then re-tweeted to the slavering masses.
There are few events that happen, and matter, in real time anymore. A growing percentage of TV shows are time-shifted—that is, they are recorded and watched later—or watched online. But sporting events still draw a real-time audience, and Twitter provides a real-time outlet for sports fans to cheer, complain and taunt their foes. Adding in the ability to interact with the growing number of athletes who use Twitter makes the medium even more attractive to the sports fanatics.
The names might change, but the trend of musicians on Twitter is here to stay. Twitter has become so intertwined with the music scene that it released Twitter #music, a service that allows people to listen to, and buy, popular music on Twitter. You wonder what would have happened to the career of the Baha Men if they’d had Twitter.
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If you need your news right now—especially if you’re not overly concerned with truthiness—then Twitter is the place to be. When news stories break, they often break on Twitter first. Whether it’s leaked political videos, uprisings in foreign countries, or the next album release from your favorite band, Twitter has it piping hot and ready to consume. Fans of the latest technology or concerned citizens alerting the world to a missing child all congregate Twitter looking for the most recent information to share.