This Is How Twitter Changed Our Lives (*Spoiler: It Involves Chicken Nuggets)

15 July 2019
Twitter, Oscars, Anniversary
Twitter became a real thing 16 years ago. Just how we all channelled our razor-sharp wit previously remains a mystery

After a day-long brainstorming session at the podcasting company Odeo, the collective idea of board members Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams was starting to take shape: an SMS service to communicate with a small group. It was the kernel of an idea that on July 15, 2003 would publically launch as Twitter. Although, at that stage, it was unlikely they had considered its potential for getting a man some free chicken nuggets.

While the first Twitter prototype was used as an internal service for Odeo employees, it’s journey to real global prominence took around four years, the defining moment coming in 2007 at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, where Twitter usage went from 20k tweets per day to 60k – the spike attributed to plasma screens at the even that would stream all Twitter messages.

Today, Twitter has raised global awareness on everything from #Blacklivesmatter to the #MeToo movement, it’s the mouthpiece of choice for breaking new scientific discovery, groundbreaking journalism and, for good and ill, is the home of major political discourse. Not that you might get all that from the most re-tweeted comments of all-time, of course.

In what’s essentially a real kick in the teeth for the state of the human race, the most popular tweets are… how should we put this? Less than high-brow. Step forward the people who want free cash, chicken nuggets and love celebrities. You, my friends, have made Twitter what it is today… and, y’know, we’re ok with that.

The money grab
The most re-tweeted post of all-time is that of Japanese billionaire and one-time punk musician, Yasaku Maezawa. The offer to split a 100m Yen ($970k) to 100 randomly selected users who retweeted the post to celebrate his Zozo Inc clothing brand’s festive sale currently stands at 4.6m.

The plea
Ah, “a man needs his nugs”, what an epitaph of our times. Whether Carter Wilkinson still needs them is unclear, but his 2017 tweet to US fast food chain Wendy’s, asking how many re-tweets he needed for a year’s supply of free nuggets was met with an “18m” response. Although the Twitterverse gave it a go, he only managed 3.5m in the end – but Wendy’s paid up anyway.

The celeb-fest
Win a Nobel Prize, save a life, invent something groundbreaking… doesn’t matter. Stick a celeb in your post and it’s going to get more re-tweets. Stick 12 of them in there, like Ellen’s selfie from the 2014 Oscars, and you’ll be met with deity-like status. Bradley Cooper???? What. Is. He. Doing. Here??

The comedy tweet
Let’s be honest, although Twitter now plays a part in every facet of our lives, most people are out there tweeting purely for the LOLZ, and we respect that. Whether your vice is cat memes or Love Island commentary, we have to admit that this one from way back in 2013 still tickles us. It’s not the most re-tweeted, it’s not the biggest, we just like it.