When introductions are about 140 characters long and everyone identifies themselves by curious names like @Balajil and @Thomas, it suspiciously resembles an underground movement. But in reality it is a gathering of social media enthusiasts and in Twitter parlance, it would be called a ‘Twestival'.

One such event was organised here on Thursday as Chennai joined 175 other cities across the world which were hosting similar events.

What started in London as a small fundraiser for a local charity in 2008 has assumed global proportions and cities have started using Twestials as a platform to leverage the power of social media to raise funds for social causes.

“It is a platform to meet new, exciting people,” said L. Balaji, an IIT-Madras student and one of the participants. “One can share ideas and collaborate on projects that have similar goals.”

Pointing out that Twitter can be used as a tool to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to work on social problems, Kiruba Shankar, co-founder of Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, said “Twitter can be used as a tool for ego massaging by talking about yourself or it you can be used to reach out to the world.”

Stressing that 140 characters can sometimes change the world, Mr. Shankar, added “Each one of us has a sphere of influence. That is the power of social media.”

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