(CNN) -- Twitter turns 7 on Thursday, and in some ways, it's like a lot of 7-year-olds.
The social-media platform can be bratty and combative. Its idea of a good conversation sometimes devolves into short bursts of shouting. It can have the attention span of a gnat, loving a shiny new plaything one day (ooh, Bronx Zoo's Cobra!) and then forsaking it for another without a second thought.
But it can also make you smile with the things it says. It can keep you more aware, and alert, than you've ever been before. And it can make you look at the world around you in a different way.
It's easy to take shots at the microblogging site, which debuted March 21, 2006, when founder Jack Dorsey typed the words "just setting up my twttr." (Creators had considered that abbreviated style for the company's name before settling on the full word.)
Anything with more than 200 million users who send out 400 million posts every day is going to have highs and lows. There are the silly trending hashtags, the badly spelled diatribes and, yes, as the cliched insult goes, even a few people who really do tweet about what they had for breakfast.
In an opinion piece for CNN last year (about another comedy controversy, no less), 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. "It's like eating Corn Flakes every day for years, and then one day you eat Corn Flakes and all hell breaks loose."
More than 450,000 followers later, she can add author and screenwriter to her credits.
Her sardonic humor, with topics ranging from family life ("How do you get a red wine stain off a baby?") to random observations ("That ninja guy in the Black Eyed Peas has probably killed 64 people, right?"), gained her a following that includes Hollywood stars and other notables like talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel (now a friend) and film critic Roger Ebert.
Now she's sold her first screenplay, "Son of a Bitch," to Warner Bros.; her book of essays, "Everything's Perfect When You're a Liar," is set to be released next month; and she's been hired to write a TV pilot.
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. His second book, "I Suck at Girls," was published last May.
Athar was a 33-year-old "IT consultant taking a break from the rat race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops," according to his Twitter profile. That spot in the mountains was in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and on May 2, 2011, he tweeted about a curiosity.
"Helicopter hovering over Abbottabad at 1AM (is rare event)," he wrote.
All of a sudden, 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 claimed that he was hacked, and at first, some of us believed him. After all, could a U.S. congressman be so clueless?
Turns out ...
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. At first, he lied, saying he'd been hacked. But after a couple of frantic days, Weiner fessed up that he had been having inappropriate online relationships with women he met through social networking sites.
He, perhaps wisely, also quit Twitter for a while. His first post since the scandal was in November, when he tweeted about Hurricane Sandy. The potential New York mayoral candidate's most recent tweet, from February, suggests that he still may not have gotten the hang of the whole Twitter thing.
"Llp@," it reads.
A Greek triple jumper, Papachristou was hours away from realizing her dream of becoming an Olympian. Then, on her way to last year's London Games, she tweeted a joke:
"With so many Africans in Greece, the mosquitoes from the West Nile will at least be eating some homemade food."
Maybe it was supposed to be some kind of play on words. But it 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.
For what it's worth, Papachristou's last tweet, from July 25, expressed "heartfelt apologies" for the joke, saying she "could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races."
Sure, Kutcher was already a TV and movie star when Twitter started up. But he 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 some news network called CNN. He also became a savvy investor in tech startups.
But perhaps more importantly than sheer numbers -- he's now 23rd on the site's popularity list, with almost 14 million followers -- Kutcher seemed to be the first celebrity who understood the benefits of using Twitter to interact with fans.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:13 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:13:07 GMT
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Members of the tea party and others are taking on the IRS again. That's because the Internal Revenue Service targeted them holding up their tax exempt status and demanding information. Joel Johnson saidMore >>
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That's because the Internal Revenue Service targeted them holding up their tax exempt status and demanding information.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:22 PM EDT2013-05-21 22:22:13 GMT
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