2015: THE YEAR ON TWITTER
It’s that time of year again. The end of it. The time when Christmas has already been going on for about four months and we’re just waiting for it to finally be over. When we’re all trying to convince ourselves that 2016 might just be our year. When everybody’s renewing their gym memberships for literally no reason. When HeadStuff’s topical section brings you the eagerly awaited Year on Twitter; a post full of hashtags, things that occurred, top trends, and surprisingly, not that many actual tweets.
Lots of stuff happened in 2015. Most of which also happened on Twitter. Earlier this month, the folks over there decided to release a neat little comprehensive list of the site’s top trending topics over the last twelve months, the most influential hashtags and user accounts, the fastest growing campaigns, the most retweeted tweets, and lots of other stuff too. If your favourite news item is missing from this article, it’s your own fault for not tweeting about it enough. You only have yourself to blame.
#2015: The year that love won #MarRef #LovesWins
According to Twitter’s year in review, Ireland’s top 5 trending topics of 2015 were dominated by one thing and one thing only – the marriage referendum. Which is unsurprising considering going out and voting was probably the most important thing that anybody did this year. May saw Ireland become the first ever country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote. A 60.2% constituency turn-out, and an incredible surge of young, first-time voters, placed the marriage referendum firmly within the top 5 referendums the country has ever held.
It was first announced in 2013 that the government would hold a referendum on same-sex marriage, and after almost two years of rigorous campaigning, thousands of badges, the rise and fall of a mural, telling the Iona Institute where to go, and assuring everybody that no, this wasn’t actually a referendum about adoption, 62.1% of Irish citizens voted yes in favor of marriage equality. And it was great.
Freshly printed copy of the Constitution of Ireland, via @PantiBliss #marref pic.twitter.com/nA8I02mQdw
— Sally Hayden (@sallyhayd) December 19, 2015
May 22nd generated a massive 400,000 tweets in the #marref tag, making it the most tweeted about thing in Ireland this year. Coming in second was #VoteYes, with #YesEquality following closely behind. #HomeToVote was the country’s fifth most popular trending topic, as thousands of Irish living abroad made the long journey home to cast their votes, support the LBGT community, and be generally good human beings.
2015 also saw America legalise same-sex marriage. Back in July, the US Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was now a constitutional right across all 50 States, including those that had previously enforced a ban on the union.
Upon hearing the result, Americans celebrated by throwing an impromptu street party outside the court, by actually getting married, and by tweeting the #LoveWins hashtag a whole load of times. The tag was the second most tweeted in worldwide political trends, and fifth in news trends across the globe.
The world welcomes refugees #RefugeesWelcome #RefugeeCrisis
Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, over 50% of the country’s population have become displaced. According to Amnesty International, almost 95% of those refugees – 4 million individuals – have attempted to settle in five countries: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. The remaining 5% have tried to seek refuge elsewhere. As of September this year, 26 EU countries excluding Sweden and Germany had only agreed to accommodate 0.2% of Syrian refugees.
Following the tragic death of three year old Aylan Kurdi who drowned when his family were trying to reach the Greek island of Kos in September, thousands of people around the world called on their respective governments to take in more refugees. Demonstrations were held in Dublin, London, Copenhagen, and a myriad of other cities around the globe.
#RefugeesWelcome became a top trending topic in Europe during September and October, as individuals pledged rooms to refugee families, donated necessities to those who had not yet settled, and stood in solidarity with the millions of Syrians who had been driven from their homes.
In response to the crisis, Ireland pledged to take in 4,000 refugees.
#JeSuisCharlie dominates Twitter trends in January #CharlieHebdo
On January 7th, two gunmen stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing eleven employees and one police officer. Terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took responsibility for the attack, claiming that the publication had offended the honour of Muhammad through its frequent controversial depictions of the prophet.
Following the attack, French art director Joachim Roncin created the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ slogan and logo as a mark of solidarity and respect for those who had lost their lives. The phrase quickly became synonymous with freedom of speech and the condemnation of the censorship of self-expression.
The #JeSuisCharlie hashtag was the seventh most tweeted news tag of the year, generating over five million tweets in just a few days. The day after the shooting, the tag was producing 6,500 tweets a minute.
Ireland calls for the #Right2Water
Twitter’s year in review revealed that tweets concerning #IrishWater compiled the top two political trends in the country this year. The last twelve months saw numerous protests, arrests, public meetings, digging up of water meters, and general declarations of ‘No Way, We Won’t Pay!’ as the government’s new system of domestic water charges faced some serious scrutiny and those first bills dropped through our doors.
Following an incident in Jobstown last year, 18 protesters who were accused of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton in her car for two hours during a demonstration had their cases heard. The hashtag #JobstownNotGuilty trended sporadically throughout the year, as those opposed to water charges cited the allegations as false, and rallied support from the public. Among those charged were TD Paul Murphy, AAA councilor Kieran Murphy, and a number of juveniles.
Just 55% of Irish households had paid their water charges bills in October of this year.
#DavidCameron has sexual relations with a pig #PigGate
So apparently, David Cameron didn’t actually have sex with a pig. But for a few bliss-filled moments back in September, he might as well have done. When one of the British PM’s ex-mates from Oxford decided to release an extract from his book detailing how Cameron placed his penis inside of a dead pig’s head, Twitter went mental. Like, actually mental. For a whole two days, our timelines were nothing but pig jokes, superimposed pig/Cameron pictures, the hashtag ‘Hameron,’ and speculation that Charlie Brooker’s dystopian series Black Mirror might actually be real life.
Pig gate was probably the greatest day of the year.
#Repealthe8th: Ireland’s fourth most popular trending topic this year
This year, repealing the draconian Eighth Amendment became a red-line issue for just about everybody who acknowledges that women are people too. The tag trended a number of times over the year, most notably when Enda Kenny announced that he did not support “abortion on demand,” when Enda Kenny declared that Fine Gael would not hold a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment if they were to return to government, and when Enda Kenny received thousands of tweets from Irish women telling him all about their periods to emphasise the government’s keen interest in their wombs.
hey @EndaKennyTD I'm still on my never ending bloody period?! Whose in charge of my menstrual cycle? Peter shitting Jackson?! #repealthe8th
— Gráinne Maguire (@GrainneMaguire) December 16, 2015
The abortion rights campaign also gained momentum due to the sheer amount of women who took to Twitter, Facebook, and various online publications to speak about their experiences travelling abroad to get an abortion. Comedian Tara Flynn and author Róisín Ingle were among those who shared their stories to reduce the stigma associated with abortion in Ireland, and to advocate for free, safe, and legal terminations for every woman in the country, regardless of her circumstances.
2015 also saw the launch of the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment. The campaign is supported by the likes of Cillian Murphy, Neil Jordan, and Marian Keyes, and as of this month, boasts over 1,700 Irish signatures.
Liam Neeson and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan also expressed their distaste towards Ireland’s treatment of its women this year through abortion rights campaign videos. Linehan and his wife Helen teamed up with Amnesty International in October to speak about the heartbreak they suffered when they discovered their baby would not survive outside of the womb. Although the couple live in the UK and were given all the support they needed at the time, they condemn the trauma associated with forced pregnancy, and recognise that pregnant women are simply not safe in Ireland.
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In that same week, Liam Neeson narrated ‘Chains’ – a short film produced by Linehan, focusing on the grave injustices Ireland has inflicted upon its women over the years. The video was heavily criticised by anti-choice activists and various members of the Catholic Church for its explicit use of religious imagery. The film was then parodied by some idiots who think that gender inequality is just a bit of craic.
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2015 also saw Dublin play host to the fourth annual #MarchForChoice. Organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign, the march took place on September 26th and boasted a substantial turn-out from activists all over the country. The ‘March for Choice’ tag trended throughout the day as pro-choice campaigners live tweeted the event, chanted about the church taking its rosaries off our ovaries, and fought for Irish women’s rights to abortion services.
As it stands, the life of a woman is still legally equal to the life of an unborn foetus in Ireland, but Labour have promised to address the abortion issue next year. Although the Labour Women Commission’s proposed legislation to replace the Eighth Amendment will only permit terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape, or if there is a chance of mental or physical harm to the mother, it remains a modest step in the right direction.
The world opts to #PrayForParis after terrorist attack kills 129
On November 13th, a series of terrorist attacks occurred in various areas around Paris including the Bataclan theatre, the Stade de France, and several restaurants. 129 people were killed by the attackers armed with guns and wearing suicide vests, while up to 99 others were critically injured. Following the attack, French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and placed the city on lockdown. Soon after, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant released a statement, claiming responsibility for the act of terrorism.
#PrayForParis became the fourth most tweeted news hashtag following the Paris attacks, with #ISIS becoming the third. The group had also launched an attack in Beirut the previous day. Social media emerged as a site of refuge during the event, as thousands of people in Paris used the tag ‘Porte Ouverte’ to seek shelter during the attack. Millions across the world also changed their Facebook profile pictures to an image of the French tri-colour as a gesture of solidarity and respect for those who had lost their lives.
The suspected prime operative of the Paris attacks was killed in a police raid five days later.
Earlier this year, a picture of an ugly dress appeared online. The dress was blue and black. This, we now know, as scientists have confirmed it. However, lots of people thought that the dress was actually white and gold for some reason that can also be explained by science, probably. For days, people on the internet argued about whether the dress was #blueandblack or #whiteandgold. This was #DressGate – and it took Twitter by storm.
On February 26th and 27th, The Dress discussion produced over 4.4 million tweets. It wasn’t a top trend of the year, but it was a top trend in the hearts of thousands of dedicated social media users (maybe). Since the controversy, designers of The Dress, Roman Originals, have apparently had a massive surge of sales. They have yet to release a white and gold version of The Dress.
#BlackLivesMatter tweeted 9 million times in 2015
Following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014, and Sandra Bland in 2015, due to police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement gained a substantial amount of momentum online and offline. The activist movement campaigns against all violence against black people, however, it has become synonymous with acts of police brutality in the US.
The hashtag was first used on Twitter in 2013 after the death of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin, but has been advocating for the proper treatment and respect for black lives ever since. This year, the campaign saw a surge in support when Sandra Bland mysteriously died in her cell after being detained by police officers for a minor traffic violation. When Bland’s mugshot was posted online, many social media users suggested that the twenty-eight year old was already dead when the picture was taken. ‘Sandra Bland’ was the tenth most tweeted news related hashtag of the year.
2015 also saw BLM campaigners confront US presidential candidates about their stances on the movement. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley expressed their support of the campaign, while Hilary Clinton revealed that she was skeptical of Black Lives Matter’s practical function in the US.
#CaitlynJenner beats Obama in Twitter follower race
Once upon a time, President Obama was the fastest Twitter user to reach one million followers. Now, it’s Caitlyn Jenner. In June, Jenner revealed her Twitter account to the world and in a mere four hours, she had amassed over one million followers. Obama was naturally devastated.
Another Jenner world record, and at 65? Who'da thought! Humbled & honored to have reached 1M followers in 4 hrs. Thank you for your support.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2015
Most used Twitter emoji of 2015
And so we’ve arrived at the end of The Year on Twitter. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s about to get even wilder, as we reveal the most (over)used emoji on Twitter of 2015.
Will it be devious sunglasses emoji? Classic thumbs up emoji? That weird emoji of the moon that looks oddly suspicious and yet also bashful at the same time? No, it’s none of those. It’s crying laughing face emoji. The most generic emoji in the entire world. Great.
Images via Brian Lawless/PA