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Twitter gets even bigger

People using Twitter is not exactly news to stop the presses. And yet, the service continues to be on a tear. And now it's making money too.

CNET editor Jeff Bakalar posted this photo of flooding outside his home in Hoboken via Twitpic. Jeff Bakalar

People using Twitter is not exactly news to stop the presses. And yet, the service has been on a tear since its inception six years ago.

That trend only continued this year, when it surpassed 500 million registered users (140 million are considered active). Usage records throughout the year seemed to fall almost as soon as they were set, but big moments included Spain's fourth goal in the Euro 2012 soccer final, Usain Bolt's gold medal win in the Olympic 200-meter sprint, Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, and his subsequent re-election. Parody accounts related to high-profile news events sprung up almost instaneously. You can, for example, now follow Clint Eastwood's chair, Big Bird, and the NHL podium.

Hurricane Sandy wasn't the first large-scale emergency to be documented by Twitter, but when it hit the New York metropolitan area, many local residents who were without phone and Internet service turned to Twitter to update friends and family on their safety. More than 20 million tweets were posted related to the storm.

And while Twitter has taken heat in the past for not having a reliable way to make money, it certainly silenced some of that criticism this year. eMarketer estimated that Twitter revenue will reach $259.9 million in 2012, $339.5 million in 2013, and $540 million by the end of 2014. Bloomberg reported that Twitter could reach $1 billion in sales in 2014.

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