Date with history: The first tweet takes flight

Jack Dorsey’s tweet on March 21 2006 launched Twitter – and a storm of abuse for prominent women that harms them and democracy, writes Carolina Caeiro.

The World Today Published 3 February 2023 3 minute READ

Carolina Caeiro

Academy Associate, US and the Americas Programme

Nearly 17 years ago, Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey posted the platform’s first-ever message: ‘just setting up my twttr’. Today, with more than 360 million monthly active users, the social media service is the focus of renewed controversy.

The uncertain leadership and whimsical rewrite of content moderation policies since the billionaire Elon Musk bought the platform have raised concerns that online abuse may surge. Already there are indications that minorities are increasingly being targeted on the platform.

Those fears are all-too familiar to prominent women. For a decade they have been the target of abuse and intimidation on Twitter – what hope have they now for a social media platform that will deliver what they need?

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