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Tracking Twitter's Message Growth

By now, everyone knows that Twitter exploded at SXSW and everybody’s seen the Alexa charts. But this is mostly a mobile app, so pageview traffic is only part of the story. How fast is Twitter really growing?

I decided to find out by using Twitter’s founder Evan Williams himself, albeit indirectly. Since Ev’s Twitter history goes from message #28 in March 2006 to #8,281,991 about three hours ago, it’s a convenient snapshot of Twitter’s growth since it began. Update: The data from November 2006 to present is faulty, since they apparently switched to non-sequential IDs. More information below.

I threw it all in Excel and charted the sequential IDs and dates for each of Ev’s 1,226 messages. The moment SXSW started, Twitter’s growth curve changed radically and hasn’t slowed down. (The huge orange bar for March is only half the month.) But more interesting to me are two other dates: November 23, when Twitter’s growth rate sped up drastically and then on February 5, when the rate seriously slowed. Are there problems with my data? If so, I can’t find it. If you have any sense of what triggered those changes, please comment and let me know.

To help with your search, and any other visualization, I’ve posted the full Excel spreadsheet with inline charts and tables. Enjoy!

Note! The last three are cumulative charts, not month-to-month growth numbers. That means there were not 8 million messages sent this month, but 8 million total since Twitter started.

Twitter Growth

Update: Jason and I just discovered that the IDs since November 2006 have not been sequential, rendering these charts useless. The jumps in activity were largely artificial. Jason has more information.

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