More than 100 million people around the world log in to Twitter every day to tweet about everything from their daily commutes to the meals they eat — but many have used the social networking tool this year for something much more important: share important events with people who could be thousands of miles away.
Here are the list of top 10 best tweets of year 2011 according to Time.
1. News of Osama bin Laden’s Death Breaks on Twitter
On May 1, select journalists received simple, three-word e-mails from the White House: “Get to work.” The President had an announcement to make, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said.
2. Gabrielle Giffords Returns to Congress
Only seven months after Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords (@Rep_Giffords) was shot in the head during a meet and greet in Tucson, she made a surprising return to the House in early August to vote on the debt-ceiling bill.
She walked into the chamber to a standing ovation, the first show of solidarity from Congress in months.
Her appearance became the emotional backdrop to that day’s vote, which passed the bill to raise the debt ceiling as a government shutdown loomed.
3. Wael Ghonim on the Egyptian Revolution
Wael Ghonim (@Ghonim) embodies Egyptian youth. As protests calling for the removal of Hosni Mubarak and his regime heated up, the Google executive facilitated a peaceful revolution over Facebook and Twitter, motivating thousands to unite on the streets of Cairo.
Protesters endured weeks of violence at Mubarak’s hand, but eventually the longtime dictator was ousted.
4. Bill Gates on Steve Jobs
Bill Gates (@BillGates) and Steve Jobs were not always friends. The two tech giants had a long and complicated relationship. Gates criticized Jobs for not being an engineer. Jobs looked down on Gates for his lack of imagination. “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” Jobs is quoted as saying in Walter Isaacson’s new biography, Steve Jobs. “He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.” Still, after learning of his rival’s death in early October, Gates was nothing but gracious.
After Isaacson’s book was released, Gates continued to reflect on his sometimes tumultuous relationship with Jobs with admirable class. “Over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things,” Gates told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour. “We got to work together. We spurred each other on, even as competitors. None of that bothers me at all.”
5. Sohaib Athar Live-Tweets bin Laden Raid
In early May, Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual), an IT consultant, began to tweet about the sounds of helicopters and blasts from his home in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He had no idea that he was logging history. He learned some nine hours later that he had inadvertently live-tweeted the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound by SEAL Team 6, which led to the al-Qaeda leader’s death.The attention around Athar swelled, and he clarified, “I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That’s all.” His humility did little to fend off attention as news outlets swarmed him with interview requests in the days following his tweets, a serendipitous window into a top-secret event.
6. President Obama’s First Live Tweet
President Barack Obama sent his first live tweet (@whitehouse) in July during an online town-hall event with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey at his side. With a laptop on the podium in front of him, Obama asked his audience about budget cuts. They answered. It was the political process in 140 characters.The politician-civilian interaction over social sites like Twitter and Facebook is increasing, with the U.S. pioneer being Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who uses his feed to answer questions, praise the Newark, N.J., community and even coordinate snow plows. The ability to maneuver in social spaces will only become more valuable to the politically ambitious, and as voters demand more interaction, candidates want to focus on their Klout score as well as the issues themselves. Obama seems to heed this advice; his Klout score is a solid 87.
7. Jonnie Marbles on Rupert Murdoch
Testifying at a hearing during the investigation of his company’s alleged voicemail hacking, media executive Rupert Murdoch nearly received a shaving-cream pie in his face. Some on Twitter saw it coming. Pie slinger Jonnie Marbles (real name Jonathan May-Bowles) hinted at his attack in a tweet (@JonnieMarbLes) just minutes before he disrupted the hearing.The attack was foiled by Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng and several others in the courtroom who tackled the self-described “activist and comedian” after his statement. The 26-year-old was arrested and sentenced to six weeks in jail for his actions. And while no physical attack can be condoned, the stunt was the year’s shining moment in live Twitter theater.
8. The Pope’s First Tweet
In June, Pope Benedict XVI sent his first tweet, to announce a Vatican news site.
The message, sent from the Vatican’s news Twitter feed (@news_va_en) on an iPad, was just the latest in the church’s digitally-friendly initiatives.
The Vatican also rolled out a YouTube channel, a Facebook presence and multiple apps. Think of it as religion 2.0.
9. The White House on Rick Astley
In July, a White House Twitter follower wrote that the White House briefing in progress wasn’t “nearly as entertaining as yesterday’s.” Minutes later, the White House (@whitehouse) responded with the “rickroll” of the year.
The phrase is used to describe the gone-viral act of tricking someone into viewing (or listening to) Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It’s not the joke itself that makes the tweet notable — the rickrolling meme has been around for years — it’s what it represents. Our government (in theory, at least) is listening — and it’s not always as stodgy as we imagine.
10. Charlie Sheen on #Winning
Unemployed winner Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) joined Twitter in March to the delight of the some 300,000 people who signed up to follow him within a few hours. (He has since gathered more than 5 million followers.)
After Sheen’s very public falling out with CBS executives and subsequent firing from his sitcom Two and a Half Men, his antics seemed to hit overdrive, but in a nice twist, his rants were sometimes so positive, they seemed downright spiritual. Sheen’s first tweet gave his trademark battle cry, “Winning!,” the hashtag treatment. It was far too amusing to hate.