Its 300 million or so active users might be a far cry from Facebook’s 1.44 billion, but Twitter’s value in capturing the online reaction to whatever is happening around the world is on full display in the social network’s annual year in review.
Unlike Facebook and YouTube, Twitter did not rank what it called the “most influential” topics of 2015, a mix of events that combined make the past 12 months look depressing, alarming, and inspirational in equal measure. Canada’s federal election was part of the list, falling in a year that included national elections in Argentina, Singapore, India, and the U.K. as well.
That said, we might be the only country in the world with a prime minister who was celebrated for being a “PMILF” the day after he won.
The year’s other trending topics, which overall were more international in scope than Facebook’s, included #RefugeesWelcome, the hashtag of choice for people around the world, but especially in Europe, who wanted to pledge their support for Middle Eastern refugees after many were galvanized both by images of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, which also spread on Twitter, and by the Berlin-based organization that grew in its wake; #PlutoFlyby, as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured the most detailed images yet of the dwarf planet’s surface; and the FIFA Women’s World Cup (which, as it happens, also took place in Canada).
Where the U.S. influenced the list, it was more social than political, with Black Lives Matter, the social movement spurred by the deaths of Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland at the hands of police; 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed, who was unfairly detained and handcuffed for bringing a homemade digital clock to his Texas school; the country’s legalization of same-sex marriage (which also passed in Ireland); and Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner’s transition into Caitlyn all part of the international conversation.
Twitter did not reveal how it measured which events had the largest worldwide impact. It wasn’t based on the number of tweets alone: the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, for example, was tweeted more than nine million times, while #IStandWithAhmed, which ultimately resulted in Barack Obama himself inviting Mohammed to the White House, was embedded in a comparatively paltry 370,000 tweets.
For those who are more interested in learning what the members of boy band One Direction think of each other, Twitter also released separate lists of the year’s top 10 trending topics in multiple categories (spoiler alert: the top trend in music was One Direction), and top 10 retweets (spoiler: half were related to One Direction, while another was from Kanye West, though they also included Caitlin Jenner’s first and Leonard Nimoy’s last).
You can check out the company’s 2015 “Year In Twitter” video, which was produced in collaboration with Getty Images, here.