Japan user marks Twitter's 20 billionth 'tweet'

Twitter, the social networking site that allows users to say something in 140 characters or less, passed another milestone on Saturday with the sending of tweet number 20 billion.

The Twitter message was sent at 3:44pm GMT by "GGGGGGo_Lets_Go," a graphic designer in Tokyo who works at an advertising agency, according to the user profile. The message was part of a conversation that appeared to be a comment about a third party that had come online and onto Twitter.

The precise meaning was difficult to translate due to lack of context, but the user's reaction to having sent the 20 billionth Twitter message was much easier to understand.

"It looks like I posted the 20 billionth tweet. I'm getting replies from people all over the world. It's scary. What are the chances? Maybe I'm going to die. Is it more amazing than winning the lottery? I thought it was a joke," he said in another Twitter message moments later.

The Twitter message comes just under five months since the 10 billionth "tweet" was posted in March this year. That's about 10 times faster than the four years it took for Twitter to reach its first 10 billion.

The dramatically faster pace underlines the rapid growth Twitter is enjoying at present.

Around 300,000 users sign up for new Twitter accounts every day and the sharp rise has put a strain on the company's IT systems. The "fail whale" error page has become a common site to many users in the last few months, particularly during major news or sporting events, such as the recent soccer World Cup.

"We’ve had too many of these issues recently," the company said in a recent blog post. It said increasing the reliability and stability of the service was the company's "number one priority."

A big step toward this should come later this year when the company opens its first dedicated data center.

"It's got kind of cramped at our current quarters," Twitter co-founder Evan Williams told reporters in Tokyo last week.

The facility, in Salt Lake City, will help the company better accommodate demand, the company said.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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