By Tomoko A. Hosaka
The Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) — Twitter’s 20 billionth message didn’t make much sense, but it spoke volumes about the rapid global growth of the microblogging service.
It came at 12:44 a.m. Sunday (1544 GMT, 11:44 a.m. EDT Saturday) from user “GGGGGGo—Lets—Go” in Japan, where Twitter has exploded in popularity over the last year. The San Francisco-based company estimates the Japanese send nearly 8 million tweets a day, about 12 percent of the global total and second only to the United States.
The tweet itself is hard to decipher, since it appears to be part of a longer conversation between two users.
“So that means the barrage might come back later all at once,” wrote the declared graphic designer and avid fan of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows baseball team in Japanese.
It didn’t take long before GGGGGGo—Lets—Go was inundated with congratulatory messages from around the world for hitting the social networking milestone. The user bio changed shortly thereafter.
“I’m grateful and humbled by those who are visiting because of my 20 billionth tweet. Be warned, I tweet a lot about baseball.”
While it took Twitter four years to reach tweet number 10 billion earlier this year in March, it took less than five months to double the figure thanks to its increasing popularity worldwide.
Twitter Chief Executive Evan Williams traveled to Tokyo earlier this month to celebrate its success in Japan.
“We’ve come a long way in two years especially in Japan,” he told an enthusiastic crowd of about 500.
Japanese Twitter users set a world record when the whistle blew in the World Cup game, in which Japan beat Denmark at 3,283 tweets per second, mostly believed to have been Japanese. About 16 percent of Japanese Internet users tweet, surpassing the 9.8 percent of online Americans.
The company launched a Japanese language version in 2008 and released a mobile site in October.
One reason Twitter has been popular in Japan is that it’s possible to say much more in Japanese within the 140-character limit. The word “magazine,” for example requires just two letters in Japanese.