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A subtweet, a shorthand for “subliminal tweet,” refers to a status update on Twitter that is covertly addressed to a specific individual without the handle of the recipient. Subtweets are closely associated with the hashtag #OOMF, an abbreviation of “one of my followers.”
One of the earliest tweets using the word “subtweet” in this manner was posted on December 2nd, 2009 by @iChelz. In her tweet, she vents her frustration with seeing tweets from people who won’t stay in touch with her in real life.
I hate when I see people who dnt txt or call me or even tweet me anymore make general tweets.Fuckk U. & Yes that was a SubTweet.— Chelsea Rae. (@iChelz) December 2, 2009
On August 9th, 2010, “subtweet” was first added to Urban Dictionary, defined as “talking about someone behind there back but sort of in their face,” and approximately a week later, #subtweet was added to the Twitter hashtag database Tagdef. On September 4th, 2010, the full phrase “subliminal tweeting” was also added to the Urban Dictionary.
Between 2010 and 2011, subtweeting was discussed on a number of personal blogs while many entertainment gossip blogs reported on subtweets posted by celebrities Drake, Rihanna and Chris Brown. In July 2011, the Twitter account @SubtweetSpotter launched to redirect various subtweets to their probable recipients (shown below).
"— Subtweet Spotter SA (@SubtweetSpotter) July 14, 2011
JadoreEstrella: You're not a photographer. You just have an overpriced camera." Cc <a href="https://twitter.com/QhaweLuthuli">QhaweLuthuli
In February 2012, YouTuber qiasomar uploaded a YouTube video parodying the use of subtweets made between two friends (shown below). Throughout the first half of 2012, articles on subtweeting appeared on a number of blogs including Lovelyish, The Churchill Observer and DreamWalker Social Marketing. In October, the Daily Dot posted an opinion piece on the prevalence of this act among teenage Twitter users followed by an article from Business Insider explaining what subtweeting was that December.
Throughout 2013, stories describing the behavior of subtweeting appeared on BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, xoJane, Digital Trends, Geek Sugar, and Complex, who looked at a number of other celebrities who subtweet including Nicki Minaj and Kim Kardashian. In October 2013, BuzzFeed writer Myles Tanzer asserted that subtweets were out of style and people who have problems with others should not be afraid to directly send them an @-reply on Twitter.
According to Topsy Analytics, the term “subtweet” has been used on Twitter more than 665,000 times between September and October 2013, while its verb form “subtweeting” has been used more than 335,000 times in the same time period.
Digital Trends – Subtweeting: The Secret, Subtle Art of Twitter Gossip
Urban Informer – Future Isn’t Too Happy With Drake; Is Drake Sending Subtweets?
The Churchill Observer – Cyberbullies use Internet to ‘subtweet’ their victims
The Huffington Post – Subtweet Heat: Undercover Twitter Drama Is On Fire
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