Twitter shares biggest world news stories this year
The year 2011 was defined by historic events, from regime changes to royal nuptials to financial crises.
December 6th, 2011
11:28 AM ET

Twitter shares biggest world news stories this year

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.

World News

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.

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. fineart

    The news story of the year hasen't happened yet. Occupy two (2) is starting and it's not going to be pretty. People are fed up. Hungry, homeless, jobless, makes people do things that they wouldn't nomally do. When we vote, we keep getting these same old politicians, with nothing on their minds but lining their own pockets with our money. Ask about the insider trading by members of congress and see what answers you get. Their almost all multi millionaires that don't give a darn about the rest of us.

    December 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • larispitler

      Occupy is dead my friend. The 99% don't care about the so called 99%. Get a job, go to work, get an education and work to better yourself.

      December 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoName

      Unfortunately occupy is a joke

      December 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      Occupy Two? Because the first version was such a success? I think those sleeping in tents forgot to look at the job postings. There are thousands of jobs posted. I think they also forgot that they have to earn the jobs, they just don't get handed out because you dont have one.

      December 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • one percent

      Agreed. Occupy protesters get a job. If you were worth hiring you'd be hired.

      December 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miclovin

      Yes there's sooooo gonna be an Occupy 2 because Occupy 1 was such a huge success get a life moron the homeless and super poor havent been rising up to join "Occupy Wall Street" just the idiots that cant find jobs because they trained in professions they knew they wouldnt find jobs in or because your to dam lazy either way the "Occupy" movement is done

      December 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sovereign Copyright

    @banasy's stalker, that's really kind of a creepy name...why don't you get a nicer one?

    December 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasys stalker

    because i find it funny and i really dont want to cause trouble i jut see banasy on here alot and figured hey why not.

    December 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasys stalker's stalker

      Oh really.......hmmm............

      December 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • I Jut See

      Me lern keboard gud like post CNNN for fun ad get too tak too peeple me smrt and good poter

      December 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • huh huh


      December 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miclovin

      Thats sooooo not creepy what so ever *Cough cough*

      December 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. las dirded

    this is so boring

    December 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. las dirded

    is anyone here

    December 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. las dirded


    December 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • las reply dirded!!!!!

      I am here ny friend. igive you30 seconds!!!

      December 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • las reply dirded!!!!!

      talk to me PLEASE!!!!!

      December 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jaded

    @ banasy, LOL I've been busy all day trying to catch up on my work that piled up while sick. Looks like the boards were full of losers today. 🙁

    December 6, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. OORAH2/5

    does anyone know the name of the song in the Bin Laden Video, its the 2nd vid, which should be the first because that was by far the biggest event this year.

    December 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      No, but I know a couple of ways you could figure it out on your own if you took a moment to use the tool between your ears.

      December 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tcr c2

    Ill be somewhere tommorrow

    December 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tcr c2

    Jaded ,Will you be on in the morning?it would be nice to talk to somebody with a brain& some common sense.

    December 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    It's been...diverse, I'll say that.
    Tomorrow is another day!

    @banasy's stalker:
    I really don't have a problem with your name, as long as you are respectful.
    I will admit, though, that typing it is a bit

    December 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. OORAH2/5


    December 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimmy Blue

    the major stories are always sooo depressing... "little kid opens successful lemonade stand" would be a nice change

    December 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. s kel

    Good pic Jaded

    December 7, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Martin

    Top ten Sandusky pick-up lines on letterman at wickedimproper . com

    December 7, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
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