An offensive tweet about AIDS in Africa created a firestorm over the weekend and ultimately cost public relations executive Justine Sacco her job. Check out how Twitter's reach has expanded and eight lives changed by the popular microblogging site.
Twitter debuted March 21, 2006, when co-founder and current Twitter executive chairman Jack Dorsey typed the words "just setting up my twttr."
The company reported that it’s now seeing over 200 million active users send 400 million tweets per day, a huge jump from last year.
Twitter sometimes reveals the lowbrow side of celebrity culture, but also brings fans closer to their favorite actors, musicians, writers, athletes and public figures than was ever possible before.
This degree of exposure can prove to be both good and bad. Take a look at some of the lives that have been changed by Twitter.
Justine Sacco. Sacco was a public relations executive for media giant IAC in December 2013 when she posted an offensive tweet about AIDS in Africa right before getting on a 12-hour flight from London to South Africa. Without access to the Internet on the plane, Sacco wasn't immediately aware that her tweet ricocheted around the Web, quickly being dubbed "the tweet heard round the world" and causing the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet to become a trending topic. IAC "parted ways" with Sacco two days later, and Sacco apologized for her "needless and careless tweet."
Anthony Weiner. In June 2011, then New-York Rep. Weiner resigned after someone used his Twitter account to send suggestive photos to some of his female followers. Weiner eventually fessed up that he had been having inappropriate online relationships with women he met through social networking sites. Weiner disappeared from the spotlight for a bit, but was a potential New York mayoral candidate.
Justin Halpern. Halpern created the Twitter account "S--- My Dad Says" in 2009 to share it with the world. Two months later, he had millions of followers (the count now sits at 3.1 million) and a book deal with HarperCollins. That book hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and led to a short-lived CBS sitcom, "$#*! My Dad Says," starring William Shatner. Halpern still tweets out his dad's best moments.
Gilbert Gottfried. Known for his sometimes inappropriate style of humor, Gottfried chose to make a series of jokes on Twitter about the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. Shortly after making the jokes, the comedian was fired from his job as the voice of the Aflac duck. In an opinion piece for CNN last year Gottfried wrote that it's a comedian's job to push boundaries and that Aflac shouldn't have been surprised at the tweets. "I've been telling jokes like this for a very long time, so the reaction surprised me," he wrote.
Kelly Oxford. Oxford was a suburban mom from Alberta, Canada, who took to Twitter as an outlet for her wry observations on life. She gathered more than 450,000 followers later and gained notoriety in Hollywood. Now she's sold her first screenplay to Warner Bros.; her book of essays is set to be released next month; and she's been hired to write a TV pilot.
Sohaib Athar. Athar was a 33-year-old IT consultant who ended up unknowingly becoming the first person report on the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden at the hands of a U.S. Navy SEAL team. Suddenly, news outlets from around the world were scrambling for interviews with him. His modest 750 Twitter followers ballooned to more than 105,000 (they've since settled back to about 64,000). He continues to tweet from Abbottabad and continues to tell his story.
Paraskevi Papachristou. A Greek triple jumper, Papachristou was on her way to the London Olympic Games when she tweeted a joke: "With so many Africans in Greece, the mosquitoes from the West Nile will at least be eating some homemade food." The tweet was quickly denounced as racially insensitive, or downright racist, by Twitter users. Greece's Olympic committee condemned the tweet and ruled that she would not be allowed to participate in the games. Papachristou later apologized for the tweet.
Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher became the first Twitter Celebrity after joining in January 2009, when the site was getting ready to make the leap from tech-savvy coffeehouse to household name. He got tons of publicity for becoming the site's first user with 1 million followers -- a distinction he won after winning a race to seven figures with CNN. He also became a savvy investor in tech startups. He's now 23rd on the site's popularity list, with almost 14 million followers.
To read more about Twitter and the people whose lives it has changed, go to CNN.com.
Check out the 10 most unlikely people on Twitter here.
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