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Posted on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Biggest Twitter misconception: CEO Dick Costolo on that and more in 140 characters (or fewer)

By Kellie Woodhouse


Dick Costolo

AP Photo

University of Michigan graduate and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo returned to his alma mater Friday afternoon to talk about his experience with the social media giant.

Costolo graduated from U-M in 1985 and joined Twitter in 2009, soon after becoming CEO of the company. On Friday Costolo spoke on the future of Twitter and how the platform has changed how people consume information and interact on the web. assembled six excerpts from Costolo's talk, public question and answer session and media interview afterward.

In true Twitter style, we're bringing them to you in 140 characters or fewer.

"There's just something magical about it."

Costolo was speaking about the 140-character entry limit on tweets. Twitter has used the same limit since it was launched in 2006 and Costolo says the company "will never change" the limit. "The 140 characters is super important," Costolo said.

"There are all these fascinating changes when the playing field is leveled and everyone speaks with the same access."

Twitter, Costolo said, treats all voices equally. No matter if you are a regular Joe or a celebrity, your Tweet moves down follower's feeds at the same rate. You can, however, pay to promote tweets.

"The volume of information helps us ... do things like dispel rumors more quickly. ... Even though [Twitter can be] the source of rumors."

Twitter has grown immensely since 2006. During election night on Nov. 6, there were 12,000 to 15,000 tweets per second, according to Twitter figures. Costolo said that growth has helped the public receive information more quickly than ever before. Although sometimes rumors begin with a premature tweet, they're usually stifled quickly by users who question the information or know otherwise.

"You can only connect the dots looking backward. You cannot connect the dots looking forward."

Costolo was speaking about the "most important advice I ever received," which he gleaned from a commencement speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University. In the speech, Jobs talked about dropping out of school to study typography, which he said gave Apple a competitive advantage years later. "It only makes sense to do what you want to do and what you're passionate about, said Costolo.

"You don’t have to feel like you have to tweet to use Twitter. It's probably the biggest misconception about the platform."

Costolo called that statement his "biggest piece of advice" he has for Twitter users. More than 40 percent of Twitter's active users don't regularly Tweet, Costolo said. "They just log on every day and consume," he said.

"It was the very first restaurant I went to when I first came to Michigan so I am going to go there tomorrow for pizza."

What restaurant was he speaking of? Cottage Inn Pizza. Costolo plans to visit the Ann Arbor landmark after attending Michigan's game against Iowa at Michigan Stadium.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Please fix "your" with "you're" in "No matter if your a regular Joe or a celebrity..."