There's no doubt this year has been one filled with dramatic news events. There have been global natural disasters and world-shaping revolutions in Arab nations in the Middle East and North Africa. There have been deaths marking the end of successful careers and also those of long-time dictators or terrorists.
And some might say 2011 more than any other year was one influenced by you, by what you were saying, what you were doing, what you were sharing and what you were contributing to the news. Some of the major news stories of the year even began with you, whether you were uploading photos and videos from the dramatic Arab Spring uprisings, capturing the devastation after an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, or commenting on the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi. In an increasingly mobile world, news rippled through our social spheres at rapid paces this year.
So it is interesting to examine what Twitter has released as its top news stories and trending topics of the year. CNN has also taken a look and created our own year in review.¬†But we want you to vote on¬†what you think the biggest and most important stories of the year were.
In some cases, the similarities between CNN's list and Twitter's list make complete sense. Certain stories were prevalent no matter where you were or where you get your news. But naturally, because certain movements began or were influenced more by social networking or citizen journalism like CNN's iReport (the revolutions in Arab nations, Occupy Wall Street and others), some rank higher on Twitter's list. It's an interesting dynamic between two forms of media that are constantly dovetailing.
Many of the top news stories also found their way into being the top hashtag topics of the year (#egypt, #tigerblood, thanks to Charlie Sheen, and #japan), Twitter reported.
So without further ado, here's a look at some of the stories Twitter says were the biggest topics of 2011. You can read the full list here.
1. Mubarak's resignation
When Hosni Mubarak's decades-long rule over Egypt¬†came to an end in February, Cairo's Tahrir Square was a scene of jubilation, as hundreds of thousands of people celebrated the fall of a man many had feared for years.
The revolution that sparked the topple of Mubarak's regime¬† was powered largely by a social media movement that took an online sentiment and brought it into the streets. People posted videos online, tweeted about the movement and continued to shout their message for all to hear. And now, for the first time since the end of Mubarak's 30-year rule, Egyptians will be able to choose their representatives to the nation's parliament.
2. Raid on Osama bin Laden
Navy SEAL Team Six became part of American military lore when the elite unit raided a compound in Pakistan and¬†killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda and the most wanted terrorist in the world who had orchestrated the terror attacks of 9/11. It was a news event that sparked widespread excitement in the United States, where some celebrated the death of a man the country had been hunting for so long.
Besides being a major story, one that is leading in CNN's poll for the top story of the year, it was one that triggered a massive response in social networks with everyone wondering whether it was really true.¬†But Twitter also had an interesting connection to this story. User Shohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) unknowingly was live-tweeting the raid.
His tweet? "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)." Rare, indeed. And historic.
3. Japanese earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster
The earth shook off the coast of Japan in March, triggering one of the worst tsunamis in years, destroying nearly everything in its path and sending millions fleeing for high ground.
The quake was one heard about around the globe, thanks in part to Twitter's sharing of information, as it became clear there was utter calamity from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake. And Japan found itself dealing with the worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility was knocked offline, resulting in a meltdown of three reactors, with radiation leaking into the air and contaminated water spilling into the sea.¬† You helped us share the story, too, by contributing to CNN iReport's Open Story, a collaborative effort of CNN and hundreds of iReport contributors who experienced the quake and its aftermath.
4. Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords
Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head as she met with constituents at a supermarket near Tucson, Arizona. Six people were killed in the attack, including a young girl and a federal judge. Many people tweeted about the incident as it was happening, looked to find out more about the suspect in the shooting, Jared Loughner, and prayed for those who were killed and injured. The shooting also sparked a debate about gun laws in the state.
Giffords has awed the nation in her recovery.¬†The congresswoman traveled to Kennedy Space Center in May to watch¬†her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly,¬†command the final launch of space shuttle Endeavour.
5. Gadhafi's death
Another uprising that played out on Twitter at a remarkable pace was the rebel's fight for Libyan freedom under the rule of long-time strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
As the battle for key areas raged in the country, including Tripoli, the clashes played out moment-by-moment on Twitter and in live blogs from many news organizations. Gadhafi was eventually killed in October after months on the run from rebel forces and NATO bombardments, news that was also met with great celebration in Libya.
News first began rolling in on Twitter that he had been captured. And then there were reports of his death. Videos began being circulated on Twitter from YouTube showing a man who was believed to be a bloodied and battered Gadhafi. The debate raged online as to whether he was in fact dead. Then following the confirmation of Gadhafi's death, an interesting debate swirled online, too: Was it necessary for us as a world to see the picture of the dead ruler to know for sure that he was gone for good.