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Twitter: 20 billion tweets and counting

Twitter hit the 20 billion tweet mark over the weekend, a major milestone for the popular social-media site. But is Twitter actually getting bigger – or is Twitter just getting busier?

By Matthew Shaer / August 2, 2010

Twitter saw its 20 billionth tweet hit the Web on Saturday.

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It seems like just yesterday that Twitter hit the 10 billion tweet mark. But the poplar social-media site is attracting traffic at a rapid clip, and on Saturday, Twitter apparently logged its 20 billionth tweet – a major landmark for the legions of Twitter fans worldwide. According to the Guardian newspaper, tweet number 20 billion, which was sent by a Japanese user, translates as follows: "So that means the barrage might come back later all at once."

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You know – whatever that means.

Many tech writers have greeted the news of the 20 billion tweets as a major landmark for Twitter. It's worth noting, however, that although Twitter continues to accumulate an ever-bigger body of tweets, there is evidence that actual Twitter membership numbers are stagnating. In January, for instance, the analytics firm HubSpot noted that a relatively small percentage of users were sending the bulk of the tweets on the site.

To look at it another way, we've seen a major increase in the number of Twitter power users, and a slowdown in the number of occasional users. Still, those power users sure can tweet hard and fast, and in recent months, Twitter has fallen victim to a series of delays and congestion-related problems.

In July, after a particularly prolonged outage, Twitter announced that it will move its technical operations to "a new, custom-built data center in the Salt Lake City area," in an effort to keep up with the site's skyrocketing traffic needs. The new data center is "built for high availability and redundancy in our network and systems infrastructure," Twitter reps said at the time.

"When you can't update your profile photo, send a Tweet, or even sign on to Twitter, it's frustrating," Twitter spokesman Matt Graves wrote on the official Twitter blog. "We know that, and we've had too many of these issues recently. [W]e are working on long-term solutions to make Twitter a more reliable and stable platform. It’s our number one priority."

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