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This article was published on December 7, 2015

2015 on Twitter: Tragedy, solidarity and love

2015 on Twitter: Tragedy, solidarity and love

Looking back at the highs and lows of 2015 makes you realize it really was a year marred by tragedy. From the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris at the start of the year to the horrific mass shooting in San Bernardino, California at the end.

However, what’s most interesting about the 2015 roundups of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram is the positivity of people’s responses. Trolls might have also made it into the headlines this year, but the overriding message on social media has been one of unity.

#PrayForParis#JeSuisCharlie and #BlackLivesMatter show how the people of Twitter responded to terrible events by rallying together and turning a hashtag into a worldwide movement.

#PrayForParis became a global trend in November almost as soon as the terrible attacks began to unfold. A sub-hashtag, #PortOuverte, also emerged from the trend as users in the city offered their homes to people who needed shelter from the attacks.

Earlier in the year, Paris gave rise to another hashtag when the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked by terrorists – #JeSuisCharlie. The hashtag represented a global stance against the attacks on a publication that celebrated freedom of expression.

#BlackLivesMatter is the perfect example of how hashtags can become social movements. It came to the fore as people responded to the killings of unarmed black men by police officers across the US and was tweeted over 9 million times in 2015. It now widely represents the conversation online and serves as a sign of unity, bringing inequality into the public forum.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.04.42
Map showing the level of tweets using #RefugeesWelcome in March, 2015.

#RefugeesWelcome is another example of a hashtag becoming a wider social movement. Europe’s migrant crisis is ongoing and this hashtag certainly won’t be disappearing anytime soon. At its peak in 2015, the hashtag was trending all over the world as people used it to rally support and urge European countries to open their borders.

Not all bad news…

2015 trends weren’t all generated by negativity though. The hashtags #HomeToVote and #LoveWins tell the tale of same-sex marriage being legalized in the US and Ireland this year.

#HomeToVote trended worldwide as Irish citizens travelled home to vote on marriage equality. Ireland made history this year when it became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage by popular vote.

Other popular hashtags at the time included #VoteYesForEquality and #YesWeDid was trending after the results of the referendum were revealed.

In the US, #LoveWins skyrocketed as the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in the country on June 26.

July 14 saw more than one million tweets from all over the world about the same thing – #PlutoFlyby – when the @NasaNewHorizons spacecraft gave us the closest ever images of Pluto as it came within 7,750 miles of its surface.

What’s even more fascinating about the trend is that when the spacecraft left earth in 2006, Twitter didn’t even exist and now it’s the reason it was able to reach so many people.

For a full searchable list of Twitter’s biggest moments, hashtags, retweets and users, check out

➤ This #YearOnTwitter [Twitter]