Why Britain is suddenly all a-twitter

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Good piece in the Independent on Twitter. Nice to see my colleague from the ICAEW Philip Woodgate on Twitter.

It was established as a communication tool for geeks and now counts showbusiness stars and the American President among its users.

The popularity of Twitter, the micro-blogging service used by President Obama to remind Americans to vote and tennis player Andy Murray to update fans on the weather, has risen so much that it has seen its visitor numbers increase by nearly 1,000 per cent among UK users.

Latest figures from Hitwise, the online intelligence service, show a 974 per cent increase in traffic, jolting Twitter from the 2,953rd most popular site among UK users to the 291st most visited by mid-January.

Widely feted as the follow up to the networking site Facebook in the evolution of web communication, the service allows users to post short updates about what they are doing. Established as the preferred communication tool for members of the tech community, the service has now entered the mainstream as a form of instant news alert and marketing technique.

The recent explosion in user numbers is largely a product of enthusiasm for a new form of citizen journalism. President Obama has a Twitter profile, although it has been quiet of late, while news of the recent plane crash in New York’s Hudson River first emerged from survivors’ Twitter updates.

Jonathan Ross, the disgraced BBC presenter, has been using the service to chat with fans during his enforced absence from the BBC. He has said he will Twitter live with Stephen Fry, another celebrated Twitterer, on his BBC television programme tonight.

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