This year on Twitter: Top hashtags, tweets and emojis
What were the most influential moments of 2015? As always, the world united this year in moments of triumph (when team USA won the FIFA Women's World Cup), activism (when race issues in the US were discussed using #BlackLivesMatter), support (when the entire world became French for the day to #PrayforParis), and fascination (when a spacecraft launched 9 years ago shot by Pluto, capturing stunning images of the former planet.)
Whether people were creating hashtags to launch global movements or to express confusion and frustration over the color of a dress, it's undeniable that the general public took to Twitter this year more than ever before to share their ideas and connect with others.
Here are the most memorable and influential moments of the year:
As the horrific attacks in Paris unfolded in November, the world united to support people in the City of Light using the hashtag #PrayForParis. Just 10 months prior, terrorists attacked the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. After that incident, citizens rallied around the phrase "Je Suis Charlie" to show their support and sorrow for the victims.
BlackLivesMatter began as a Twitter hashtag and has come to represent a social movement. The hashtag or phrase was Tweeted 9 million times in 2015. It now serves as a unifying message for communities discussing events around #Ferguson, #Charleston, the#BaltimoreProtests, and individual incidents involving police and Black citizens.
People used Twitter this year to celebrate the national legalization of same-sex marriage, notably in the US and in Ireland. The #HomeToVote hashtag became hugely popular when Irish citizen expats shared their experiences returning home to vote, and #LoveWins celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage in the US on June 26.
As many thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa seek asylum in Europe, human rights activists and other citizens around the world have chimed with the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome.
When 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed was detained and handcuffed at his Texas school for bringing in his homemade digital clock (the ostensible fear: it was a bomb), a photo of the high school freshman in handcuffs went viral on Twitter. In less than six hours, the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed sparked a global conversation with more than 370,000 Tweets, including one from President Obama.
Football (a.k.a. soccer) fans created a massive global conversation around this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. Whether it was a celebratory "gooooaaalll!" Tweet or commentary on a save or penalty kick, Tweets about the #FIFAWWC were viewed 9 billion times from June 6 to July 5, making the tournament one of the largest global sporting events of the year.
Twitter did not exist when @NasaNewHorizons left Earth in 2006 – but it's where the whole world came to marvel over the historic #PlutoFlyby. Buzz around the spacecraft, which came within 7750 miles of Pluto's surface, and the close-up images it captured, generated more than 1 million Tweets on July 14.
A photo of the same dress seen in different light suddenly went viral, and captured the attention of millions of people who marveled at the optical illusion or delved into the science behind the visual puzzle. As we debated #BlueandBlack or #WhiteandGold, the dress sparked a global conversation on Feb. 26-27, with more than 4.4 million Tweets.
@Caitlyn_Jenner joins Twitter:
In June, the world met @Caitlyn_Jenner via Twitter: in just over four hours, she amassed over 1 million followers (breaking the record set by @POTUS) to claim the title of fastest time to reach that mark, which in turn led to recognition in the Guinness World Records.
Most Tweeted Emojis of 2015:
Maybe next year, salsa dancer emoji.
2015 "Golden Tweet":
And finally, every year Twitter has a tradition of crowning one Tweet as the "Golden Tweet", a.k.a. the most re-Tweeted Tweet of the Year. This year's winner was born when news broke that One Direction member Zayn Malik was parting ways with the group. Harry Styles expressed gratitude toward fans with this Tweet:
Styles's Tweet joins the ranks of Ellen Degeneres' 2014 star-filled Tweet, Lea Michele's 2013 heartbreaking goodbye Tweet, and President Obama's 2012 'four more years' Tweet.
Clearly it's been a great year on Twitter for both serious sociopolitical debates and lighthearted meme sharing. 2016, you have some big shoes to fill. Bring on the hashtags!
More on the year in review:
The 10 best songs of 2015
The top viral stories of 2015
Taylor Swift ruled Instagram in 2015, but Kendall Jenner got the most likes