Little-known Twitter

This time we’ll explore the Twitter infrastructure and examine the relatively familiar Periscope and Vine social networks as well as several projects for advertisers, TV companies and developers

Little-known Twitter

Little-known Twitter

Little-known Twitter, photo 1

Products for users


The idea for Periscope came up during a protest demonstration in Istanbul in 2013. The service’s co-founder Kayvon Beykpour was scrolling through Twitter posts, following the latest events taking place on the Taksim Square and lamenting the fact that tweets couldn’t give a full account of the occasion. Wanting a first-hand experience (but not so much wanting to actually risk his life), he thought it would be great if there was an iPhone app that could stream videos from any place that has mobile connection.

Together with his friend Joe Bernstein, Kayvon began a crowdfunding campaign that allowed him to collect a sufficient amount of money to start working on the app. The startup was noticed and subsequently purchased by Twitter at an early development stage. In March 2015 the Periscope streaming app was released for iPhone, and, a while later, for Android. However, Twitter went further and in January 2016 it was announced that the app will be integrated with GoPro cameras; the most recent news are that Periscope will have a text search feature and will even be able to capture footage from several drone aircraft models.


Vine was another company that was bought out by Twitter before the official launch of its product, a social network that would permit its users (with the help of a cross-platform app available even on Xbox One) to create looped videos and share them with others directly or via Twitter and Facebook. Vine users can edit videos and play around with stop motion, and while the video length was limited to 6 seconds in June 2012 when the service was launched, by the end of July 2016 Vine introduced an experimental 140 second format, with the short versions serving as previews. Apart from video recording and publishing, the app lets the user create channels, repost videos uploaded by other users and limit content to certain user categories; basically, Vine has everything a social network should.


TweetDeck is a free cross-platform app bought out in 2011 that serves as the official client of Twitter. The app has a distinct multiple column interface that lets you follow several feeds on a single screen, making it the app of choice for a journalist as it helps to snatch first-hand content before the other newsman does.

At the present moment Twitter has ceased to support and develop the app for Windows, Android and iOS, focusing on the Mac OS X versions, the web app and the Chrome extension instead.

Products for business


Curator is a versatile analytics and monitoring tool that made many a media company employee sigh with relief. It helps you gather, research and systemize tweets, Vines and videos based on user-assigned filters and requests. The variety of filters is immense: hashtags, user profile data (for instance, you can filter displayed search results by minimal reader count), personal user info (age, location, etc.), tweet content (Vines, images) and so on.

After gathering and processing the required data, Curator arranges it into a list for the user to view. At this stage the user can change search conditions, assign new filters and repeat the process, or pick the necessary tweets from the list, put up them up into a collection and generate an HTML code for a widget that can be placed on a website or in a blog

Promoted Video

Promoted Video is service that advertisers can use to create targeted ad campaigns based on short (10 minutes or less) videos, uploaded directly to Twitter.

This is how it works: the advertiser uploads a video and then picks a target audience using a diverse selection of targeting filters. The video then appears in the newsfeeds of the relevant users. There are plenty of filters to choose from, starting from gender, language and device and up to whether the user has visited the advertiser’s website. The service is cost per view, meaning that the advertiser has to pay only if the video has actually been watched.


The MoPub company specializes in advertising through mobile apps and was acquired by Twitter in 2013. Their service is equally helpful for both advertisers and developers, as a developer can easily monetize the app by simply sticking a banner in it. As for advertisers, they can employ MoPub to obtain in-depth ad statistics whenever they want.

The aforementioned Promoted Video service is based on MoPub.


A cloud service for TV companies, SnappyTV allows editing, converting and publishing live content in social networks, blogs and mobile apps, with the obvious goal of attracting Internet viewership. The platform can create video clips, highlight reels, GIFs, photos and memes from broadcasted programs virtually on the fly and then share them with Internet users. Twitter acquired the SnappyTV service in 2014.


In 2014 Twitter announced the takeover of the CardSpring platform, which is used by various commercial organizations to create credit/debit card based marketing programs. The buyers register on the website or in the commercial organization’s app with the help of their cards and gain access to various promotional offers and discounts available in the company’s stores. Using the card to pay for a purchase causes the terminal to automatically recognize the registered number, and the buyers get instant access to all the discounts and promos and are notified by SMS or e-mail. In turn, the company receives up-to-date and detailed statistics on its customers: which of them cashed their discounts in, who came back for more, which stores attract the most customers and so on.


Crashlytics is a developer tool, integrated with mobile apps to gather statistics on crashes that take place after installation on customer devices and to collect and analyze data on the possible error causes. Crashlytics was purchased by Twitter in 2013 and in 2014 became part of Fabric, an integrated toolset for developers.


A marketing company specializing in cross-platform targeted advertisement, TellApart joined the Twitter team in 2015. Thanks to this merger, advertisers were presented with an additional opportunity to reach out to the sought-for user categories, no matter their preferred platform or device. Whether it’s for mobile phone or PC users, TellApart lets the advertiser offer the ads for a certain product only to those potentially interested in it and collect in-depth statistics to be sent back to the advertiser, even if the user saw the ad in an e-mail they read using their tablet and then bought the product from their laptop.


Niche, a startup that serves to connect advertisers and video bloggers, was yet another substantial purchase made by Twitter in 2015. This merger granted Niche’s customers access to the audiences of Twitter and Vine, and the Twitter ad platform set out to conquer media like YouTube and Instagram. Niche’s primary source of profit is the transaction fee paid every time an advertiser and a video content creator strike a deal; however, Niche is not limited to middleman services as it provides its customers with data on how their ads are faring among users.

Presently, there is an official Niche app for iOS that provides advertisers with access to statistical data and information on payments.


Gnip is a B2B company that collects data from social networks. As part of the Gnip package, Twitter got access not only to detailed info on their own userbase, but on the userbases of other social networks and services as well, including VKontakte, Tumblr, Foursquare, Wordpress and many more. This granted the company extensive insight into the audiences targeted by companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Volvo, LandRover and Zara, starting from their age and preferences and up to the posts and likes they leave in social networks.

Open source projects


Bootstrap is a powerful framework with a full set of options for creating a fully functional website from scratch. The variety of HTML and CSS templates saves a great deal of time when handling minor tasks to help you concentrate on the actual website design. Websites created with Bootstrap look similar in any browser in any resolution and on any device, whether it’s a PC, a mobile phone or a tablet.


A platform for creating mobile apps, Fabric bundles together Twitter services, Crashlytics service statistics and MoPub’s advertising power. As an additional bonus, it throws in the Digits service for creating apps which require phone number / single-use SMS code based registration. Along with the platform itself, the developers have been equipped with the Fabric mobile app available for both iOS and Android. The app can receive crash notifications and collect various stats on the app’s users and performance.


Finagle, an RPC system for Java Virtual Machine, is extensively used by Twitter and various other companies to guarantee the fail safety of their servers. Finagle helps create reliable client and server apps for a wide variety of protocols.


Finatra is a snappy web framework for the Scala language that works on top of Finagle.


Ambrose is a platform for visualization and real-time monitoring of MapReduce data workflows. It presents a global view of all the map-reduce jobs derived from your workflow after planning and optimization. As jobs are submitted for execution on your Hadoop cluster, Ambrose updates its visualization to reflect the latest job status.


Parquet is a columnar data storage format that support nested data, created by Twitter to let developers reap the benefits of highly efficient column-oriented data visualization within the Hadoop ecosystem.


Summingbird is a library that lets developers write programs that work with MapReduce and that look like native Scala or Java collection transformations. Summingbird allows these programs to be launched on a number of well-known MapReduce platforms including Storm and Scalding.


A system for web developers that offers a generic solution to the problem of data package management, Bower runs over Git, which allows it to be ultimately efficient when updating the necessary packages no matter their data type: JavaScript, font or image.


A lightweight component-oriented Javascript framework with event-oriented architecture for working with DOM nodes. Flight is used in Twitter and TweetDeck web apps.

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