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The World’s Most Prolific Twitter User Tweets Mostly About Nothing

As Twitter celebrates its 10th birthday today, @VENETHIS will send approximately his 37,771,000th tweet. He’s by far the service’s most prolific user, according to Twitter Counter, a statistics and analytics service powered by Twitter that tracks the accounts with the most tweets.1

Many of the other top tweeters are bots or brands or both — a Venezuelan news curator, an astrological-data provider, a credit-card company pushing offers. @VENETHIS, though, appears to be a real person in Japan2 who today mainly uses the site to find partners and opponents for online games. He looks like any other tweeter, a member of an online subculture lacking in contextual clues for outsiders: He tweets a lot to his 43,000 followers about games such as Splatoon — things like seeking a tag-team match or crowing about a new weapon.

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He’s not just in first place for lifetime tweets. He’s in first place by a lot, ahead of the second-place account by almost 31 million tweets. He has posted more than 15,000 tweets per day since joining Twitter in August 2009.

@___sa__sa___ 7.1
@___Scc____ 7.1
@notiven 5.9
@acmc_clock_euro 5.6
@Favstar_Bot 4.9
@AmexOffers 4.7
@octifx 4.5
@urbandictionary 4.3
@InternetRadio 3.8
The 10 most prolific tweeters

Through March 20, 2016

Source: Twitter Counter

Who he is and what motivates him remain largely a mystery. I didn’t have much luck getting in touch with the champ. He didn’t reply to my tweets asking him to get back to me; his Web page is under renovation, and its registration info is a dead end. (I caught him discussing my inquiry3 with one of the people he follows — on, where else, Twitter — but they ended up just talking about playing an online game together.)

Several English-language media outlets have noted the @VENETHIS record. But some earlier articles — plus the Web comic XKCD, an app to block prolific tweeters, Quora, Yahoo Answers and a data-analytics book — previously named a different account, @YOUGAKUDAN_00, as the top tweeter. Some articles about @YOUGAKUDAN_00 called the account holder, who’d be roughly 25 years old today, a fan of anime, manga, gaming and programming. In 2013, his tweets, strung together, would have filled “over 2,000 copies of Haruki Murakami’s magnum opus The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” Fast Company reported. They were worth $1.2 million in 2013, according to a tongue-in-cheek valuation by The Wall Street Journal.

So which one is it? Is this a disputed title?

It looks like the two accounts are one and the same — the same person maintained one and then transferred to the other. @YOUGAKUDAN_00 is suspended — it seems to have posted its last tweet two years ago — but its old tweets redirect to @VENETHIS. In other words, @YOUGAKUDAN_00 and @VENETHIS are the same account, and @VENETHIS gets credit for all of @YOUGAKUDAN_00’s tweets.4 @YOUGAKUDAN_00 is dead; long live @VENETHIS.

@YOUGAKUDAN_00 was largely responsible for racking up the record that @VENETHIS can now claim. Twitter Counter stats show that the world’s top tweeter did all the heavy lifting within a 40-days-and-40-nights stretch ending March 1, 2012, accounting for 96 percent of his tweets.5 The rest of his oeuvre amounts to a mere 1.5 million missives, not even good enough to top the Osaka-area leaderboard.


He doesn’t appear to have had a particular agenda — he was going for volume. Many of his tweets were addressed to @null, a mostly dormant account that has more than 50,000 followers, has posted just four tweets and seems to get many “replies” that look as inscrutable as the ones @VENETHIS was sending. The world’s most prolific tweeter was writing to one of the world’s least prolific.

Some of these tweets were in binary:

Some were decimal:

Others hexadecimal:

Do these tweets mean anything? Some sleuths tried to decode them and found nothing. One said the tweets “are either just pseudorandom garbage following a very flat distribution, or encrypted with a strong cipher.”

Wouldn’t all that tweeting have annoyed his followers, who numbered more than 3,000 throughout his productive period? Not necessarily. Even if you followed him, you wouldn’t see his replies to others’ tweets unless you also followed the account he was tweeting at.

Other tweets were more recognizably human. Word appears to have gotten out internationally about his No. 1 Twitter ranking in March 2012, shortly after he set the record. He replied to some skeptics, confirming to one that he did juggle a social life with his tweeting schedule and smiling at others who marveled at or mocked his feat. He seemed to be enjoying the attention, while playing coy:

On Thursday morning, while waiting to hear back from @VENETHIS, I tried contacting some people he might know: the nine of the 32 Twitter users he followed at the time whose direct messages were open. One, who identified himself as a 17-year-old high school student, pointed me to a 2012 article in Japanese, which said that @VENETHIS’s name is Venetisu and that he was using a mobile Twitter client called Keitai Web that allowed him to tweet automatically and frequently, exploiting a loophole to get around Twitter’s 1,000-tweets-per-day max. (Twitter has since increased the daily maximum to 2,400 tweets.) Other press coverage followed.

Lani Alden, a scholar of Japan and the humanities, offered to apply her knowledge of Japanese to help me learn more about @VENETHIS. She approached the same high school student who’d sent me the link to the 2012 Japanese article, and he answered some of her questions based on his knowledge of @VENETHIS’s story and some digging through his tweets. Keitai Web wasn’t the only tool used to set the record, we learned — when @VENETHIS hit limits on the number of tweets he could send, he rented a server and built his own tool to send tweets. “He did this largely to become the largest automated Twitter account on Twitter,” Alden said. “It really wasn’t for any reason other than that.” Twitter suspended him at least seven times, and Alden said the 17-year-old told her that after the last time, he promised never to use an automated tool to post again.

I asked Twitter spokesman Brian Poliakoff why @YOUGAKUDAN_00 was able to break the rule and why the account was suspended and transferred. He declined to comment.

So long as Twitter doesn’t lift its cap on tweet volume, and no one else finds a similar loophole, @VENETHIS’s record is secure. Even though he now tweets relatively rarely — about 38 times a day so far this month — it’d take maximal tweeting by the No. 2 tweeter for almost 35 years to catch up.

The record-setting tweets served no apparent purpose beyond boosting the account holder’s ego and fame. There may be no better symbol of the worst of Twitter in the 10 years since co-founder Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet.

On the other hand, decoding the story of Twitter’s most prolific user took the best of the service: its power to connect people across geographical, linguistic and cultural barriers. When I was online at 4 a.m. asking strangers across the globe nosy questions in a language I didn’t know to try to report this story, most of them answered.

UPDATE (March 22, 10:50 a.m.): This story has been updated to include information provided by Lani Alden.


  1. I’m calling him a man based on articles about him, which themselves might have been based on the account’s Twitter profile. It doesn’t have any profile text now.
  2. Based on self-selected time zone of the account owner. He appears on both the Tokyo and Osaka leaderboards at Twitter Counter.
  3. If, like me, you don’t speak Japanese, you can click on the globe icon on a tweet to get the Bing translation.
  4. Twitter lets users transfer their account to a new handle, like my boss did two years ago.
  5. Twitter Counter has data for Jan. 21 and March 1 and some but not all days in between, so it’s possible the most intensive period of tweeting was even briefer and more intense.

Carl Bialik is FiveThirtyEight’s lead writer for news.

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