Today marks the 10th anniversary everybody’s favorite 140-character social media platform. Ten years! If it were a human, it would start thinking its parents were annoying and developing an aversion to showering by now.
In the decade since the first tweet, Twitter has literally changed the way the world works. Hashtag, anyone? Before Twitter, it was known as a pound symbol, and was most commonly associated with being used to signal the end of your ID number when banking over the phone. #truth #blessed
But Twitter’s impact on the world goes beyond just the ubiquitous hashtag. Below are ten tweets from the annals of Twitter’s decade-long history that changed our lives, and in some cases the world, forever.
March 21, 2006: The Tweet That Started It All
And with that, Twitter was born. “…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect,” founder Jack Dorsey told the Los Angeles Times in 2009, explaining the origin of the site’s name. “The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.” Dorsey’s first tweet, lacking both punctuation and capitalization, definitely falls into line with the intent.
June 19, 2008: Water On Mars
While the news of water on Mars was certainly significant, the fact that NASA chose to issue the finding via Twitter, rather than coming out with a news release or holding a press conference, was groundbreaking in itself. With the tweet, Twitter officially became a source for media outlets to report breaking news.
January 15, 2009: The Miracle On The Hudson
We all remember the story of Captain Sully’s incredible landing of U.S. Airways flight 1541 on the Hudson River back in 2009. Twitter played a huge role in getting the news of the incident out to the public: the plane ditched on the river at 3:31 p.m.; user Janis Krums sent out his viral tweet five minutes later, a full 15 minutes before news outlets picked up the story. According to CNN, TwitPic actually crashed because of the volume of people trying to view Krums’ shot of the rescue from his spot on the ferry.
January 25, 2011: Twitter’s Role In The Arab Spring
The Arab Spring was one of the first cases of Twitter being used to connect and mobilize protestors. With the spread of the hashtag #Jan25th, Egyptians were encouraged to meet in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, leading to over 80,000 protesters showing up. That afternoon, Twitter was shut down within the country and wasn’t restored until February 2. Twitter also helped connect the protestors to the outside world. As Wired wrote in 2011, “Did social media like Facebook and Twitter cause the revolution? No. But these tools did speed up the process by helping to organize the revolutionaries, transmit their message to the world and galvanize international support.”
May 1, 2011: Liveblogging The Abbotabad Raid
All Sohaib Athar wanted was a quiet evening in Abbotabad, but what he got was a front-row ticket to the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s complex. And he took the Twitterverse with him to the show. “Go away helicopter—before I take out my giant swatter,” he tweeted, before hearing a “huge window-shaking bang.” He then proceeded to unwittingly live micro-blog the entire incident–something that definitely would not have been possible pre-Twitter.
November 6, 2012: Obama’s Victory Tweet
Shortly after posting an image of himself celebrating his victory in the 2011 presidential race with a hug from the FLOTUS, President Obama’s announcement became the most popular tweet of all time… for a time.
March 2, 2014: Ellen’s Star-Studded Oscar Selfie
Alas, Obama’s victory tweet was overshadowed a year and a half later by Ellen’s Oscar selfie with a dozen of the evening’s A-list attendees. While it later came out that the selfie was actually a carefully-calculated $18 million Samsung ad, it didn’t keep the tweet from achieving the status of most retweets in history.
January 7, 2015: Je Suis Charlie
Shortly after the horrendous attacks on the offices of Paris’ satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, art director Joachim Roncin created the logo and hashtag #jesuischarlie, as a means of showing solidarity with the victims of the massacre. The hashtag soon went viral and became one of the most popular news hashtags in history.
June 1, 2015: Caitlyn Jenner’s Victorious Coming-Out
In conjunction with Vanity Fair’s article on her coming-out to the world as transgender, Caitlyn Jenner tweeted an official announcement affirming her joy “after such a long struggle.” The groundbreaking tweet was the 10th most retweeted in 2015.
June 26, 2015: #LoveWins
While Caitlyn’s was the 10th most retweeted tweet of last year, Obama’s affirmation of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage was the fourth most retweeted, giving supporters of the ruling all the warm fuzzies with that #LoveWins hashtag.
And One For The Road…
March 21, 2016: Twitter Turns Ten
Which tweets were we right about? Which ones did we get wrong? Do we deserve to be mercilessly mocked for our Top Ten? Hit us up in the comments!