It’s really, really hard to sum up 2012 in 140 characters. Yet, it has been a very interesting year when it comes to Twitter. From its transformation as a social media destination to the infamous Twitter beefs, the microblogging site has never ceased to amaze its users. Here’s a look at some of the most important Twitter news that happened in 2012.
1. President Obama Beats Bieber For Most Retweeted Tweet Ever
In September, Justin Bieber went on Twitter to memorialize one of his biggest fans, 6-year-old Avalanna Routh, who passed away from brain cancer. He was retweeted by more than 200,000 users, which at the time made it one of the most retweeted tweets ever. Unfortunately for Bieber, it wasn’t long before his tweet for Avalanna was surpassed by President Obama’s Election Night tweet featuring a photo of him embracing his wife Michele. It wasn’t even close — nearly 700,000 users retweeted his photo, essentially blowing Bieber out of the water.
2. Twitter vs. Instagram
Ever since Facebook bought Instagram earlier this year, there hasn’t been much love between the photo-sharing app and Twitter. Twitter has since limited third-party applications on their site and blocked Instagram from using Twitter’s user list, which makes it hard for Instagrammers to share their photos and find their friends. They also doubled down on their “war” with Instagram by adding their own photo filters on their smartphone app.
3. Binders Full of Inanimate Twitter Accounts
If there’s one interesting Twitter phenomenon in 2012, it’s how quickly inanimate Twitter accounts have surfaced after some embarrassing moment or viral event. This was especially true during the presidential election, when Clint Eastwood’s empty chair schtick and Mitt Romney’s gaffes about Big Bird and “binders full of women” prompted some unknowns to launch said Twitter accounts.
4. Twitter Beef Turns Deadly
While beefs on Twitter are nothing new, it’s exceedingly rare for them to end in murder. The feud between Chicago rappers Chief Keef and Lil JoJo escalated beyond Twitter and YouTube. Lil JoJo was shot dead in September, and Chief Keef’s response to Lil JoJo’s death on Twitter prompted suspicions that he may have been involved in the murder.
5. Pele, Betty White, Neil Young and The Pope Join Twitter
If there’s any segment of the Twitter population gaining more attention, it is old people. World-famous soccer star Pele, everybody’s favorite old lady Betty White and rocker Neil Young are some of the more well-known names that opened accounts in 2012. The most notable of them all? Pope Benedict XVI started tweeting to the faithful earlier this month and has amassed more than 608,000 followers.
6. Going For Twitter Gold At The Summer Olympics
There’s a reason why the London Summer Olympics is the most social yet. Olympians not only battled each other in the arenas, they also competed for the most Twitter followers. Even though Michael Phelps won social media gold overall, Usain Bolt amassed the most followers on Twitter.
7. #YOLO Then You Die
File this under “unfortunately stupid.” An aspiring Southern California rapper’s last tweets before dying in a DUI crash last September has become buzzworthy because of his use of the phrase YOLO (you only live once). Inkyy’s poor decision definitely embodied that YOLO spirit.
8. Twitter Dabbling Into Video
In 2012, Twitter tried to transform itself from microblogging site to a social media destination. Not only have they taken a page from the Facebook playbook and introduced “header photos,” they’ve also considered hosting original videos ala YouTube. In fact, “EpicEDM” will be one of the first web series hosted on Twitter, so be on the lookout in 2013 for their debut.
9. Storytelling Evolves On Twitter
Twitter has of course evolved from merely being a platform where users could update their followers about what they ate for dinner, but it has also changed the way we tell stories. The #Twitterfictionfestival created literature with 140 or less characters, and the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas gave their Twitter followers a minute-by-minute report on the War in Gaza without journalistic moderation.
10. Ray William Johnson Feud Spills Onto Twitter
It’s not just YouTube that has acted as a battlefield for Ray William Johnson and Maker Studios. YouTube celebrities like KassemG, Philip DeFranco and ShayCarl used Twitter to give their two cents on the dispute, with some exchanges escalating into a mini-feud of sorts.