Twitter Survives Oprah Invasion

Dennis Faas's picture

It's estimated that publicity on the Oprah Winfrey show may have brought more than a million new users to Twitter. The site's sometimes-shaky servers survived the invasion, though some feel its 'trendy' and 'cool' status took a hit from a show associated with middle-aged ladies.

Winfrey joined the micro-blogging site last Friday and posted her first message (known as a tweet) during the show. It capped a week of celebrity-led publicity about the site as Ashton Kutcher beat CNN in the race to be the first users on Twitter with more than one million followers.

There's no way of telling exactly how many people joined Twitter as a result of Oprah Winfrey's show. Ryan Block, former editor of tech site Endgaget, estimates the figure at 1.2 million based on the user account numbers given to new members.

Guesstimates At Work

These numbers don't go up sequentially, but there are some theories that with each new member, the number alternates by increasing by 1 and increasing by 10. Another site used this information to come up with a figure of 700,000 new members. (Source:

It's worth noting that Oprah Winfrey currently has 427,574 followers, making these estimates seem a little high. You'd expect most of the people who signed up after seeing the show to have followed her account, and some of her followers will already have been on the site before the show. Either way, bringing in several hundred thousand new members to a site which is believed to have only had a million members a year ago is pretty impressive.

Fail Whale Fails To Surface

The 'Winfrey effect' didn't, however, seem to cause Twitter any technical problems.

Regular users are all too familiar with the logo, commonly known as 'Fail Whale', which appears when the site is overloaded, but there are few reports of such problems in the past few days. It's not known if Twitter planned ahead and increased capacity, or simply got lucky.

The appearance of the new members is not going over well with some long-time users who fear the site will be spoiled by an influx of new, casual members. That wasn't helped by Winfrey's first post being entirely in capitals, a breach of netiquette. (Source:

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