Twitter, the popular microblogging site that lets users post "tweets" of 140 characters or less, has hit a new milestone: Actor Ashton Kutcher became, at 2:13 a.m. ET on April 17, the first Twitter user to have 1 million "followers" attached to their account.
Kutcher beat CNN, with whom he was publicly racing to hit that number, by exactly half an hour. According to CNN, the news service had 998,239 users at the moment that Kutcher hit the mark.
The actor agreed to donate 10,000 mosquito bed nets to charity for World Malaria Day in the event of victory; CNN had agreed to do the same. Under the terms of competition, CNN will donate 1,000 of the mosquito nets instead.
CNN maintains 45 official Twitter accounts, which total 1.3 million followers. The actual race, however, was between Kutcher and the breaking news feed, developed by a British Web developer and acquired by CNN only this week for undisclosed terms.
Kutcher's "victory" further suggests that Twitter has become an effective marketing tool for public individuals looking to spread their influence further online. Several other celebrities also maintain Twitter feeds.
Twitter grew 131 percent in March 2009, according to research firm ComScore, hitting 9.3 million visitors. This effectively doubled February's number of 4.3 million. In order to generate revenue, the site has begun sponsored sites and suggests that paid commercial pages will begin later in 2009.
Rumors abounded in early April 2009 that Google would acquire the site. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone suggested in a blog posting that the company will remain independent.