Photograph by Vivienne Walt

    They were just three telegraphic, panicked sentences amid the mayhem in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Feb. 2, 2011. “Very tense near museum now. We’re still blocking them but fatigue & injuries slowly catching up with us,” Mosa’ab Elshamy tweeted at 10:31 p.m. “More people needed.” Hundreds following Twitter ran to help. Watching the lethal battle unfold from my hotel above, I tweeted at 11:22 p.m., “Listening to gunfire and Molotov cocktails exploding outside my window. A violent chaotic day bodes ill.” Twitter, now a $23 billion company that hosts 500 million tweets a day, did not create the Arab Spring; exasperated youth did that. But the torrent of raw, enraged tweets rendered government media toothless, instead directing mass action by the minute, and helping to topple a 30-year dictatorship in just 18 days. After Twitter, no revolution will be the same again. Its epic drama is written on the fly, in tweets like this from Feb. 2 at 3:01 p.m.: “Plainclothes thugs (police) are on horses now, trying to storm Tahrir Square, with whips!” In the stunned aftermath, we were left with tweets like this from one Cairo woman: “My dad hugged me after the news and said ‘Ur generation did what ours could only dream of. i’m sorry we didn’t try hard enough.’ ” Sadly, her dad’s generation did not have Twitter. —Vivienne Walt

    Company Info

    IndustryInternet Software & Services
    Revenues ($ millions)1,403
    Company typePublic
    CEOJack Dorsey
    Impact SegmentConnecting the World

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