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The 20 most important tweets ever

Who knew 140 characters could say so much?

The 20 most important tweets ever
21 March 2016

Happy tenth birthday Twitter.

The very first tweet was sent on this day back in 2006 and unleashed a new generation of microblogging, which has spanned the sacred, the profane, the important and - mostly - the utterly inconsequential. Hey, it's not called Twitter - dictionary definition "to give a call consisting of repeated light tremulous sounds" - for nothing.

Despite only having 140 characters to play with, some tweets have gone down in history, almost certainly destined to be looked upon by future alien invaders with the same sense of wonder that we study the Dead Sea scrolls. Maybe.

Here's our pick of the 20 tweets that changed the world (some more than others).


The first tweet ever sent was by (unsurprisingly), Twitter co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey. We're not really sure why he abbreviated the service's name - maybe he was just getting in practice for the constant battle of trying to keep within the 140 character limit and deciding which grammatical atrocity to commit.


Hot on the heels of Jack was co-creator Dom Sagolla - @dom being the ninth registered user on the site - who made the first accurate prediction on the burgeoning service, with this Nostradamus-like tweet.


Pop star Katy Perry joined the service in 2009 and seven years on, she's the most-followed person on Twitter, with 84.8m followers at the time of writing, despite the best efforts of Taylor Swift and all the rest. Her relationship with Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) played out in full on the service, something which we're sure she's delighted about now.


Little did Chris Messina know what he was unleashing on popular culture when he mooted the idea of using a hashtag to group together conversations on the site back in 2007. He has since explained why he didn't patent the idea; essentially because he didn't want to make money and wanted the concept to be commonly-owned. Thank goodness he was so generous, otherwise we wouldn't have had the likes of...


We still don't know whether this was an #epicfail or #viralgenius. Either way, we spent a good few days laughing at this unintentionally x-rated invitation to hear Susan Boyle's new album back in 2012.


One of Twitter's main triumphs has been becoming the go-to place for first-hand reporting of breaking news events. One spectacular example of this was when Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant, living in Abbottabad, unintentionally live-tweeted the US-led operation to kill Osama Bin Laden, documenting the sound of explosions and more as the highly-secretive mission took place.


And it's not just unintentional revelations that appear on the service - accounts now frequently use their ready-made audience and the possibility of virality to make announcements directly. News of the discovery of water on Mars was made on Twitter in 2008 by the @MarsPhoenix account.


And, of course, the reason most of us are on Twitter. The 'slebs. And peak celebrity was reached with Ellen's tweet at the Oscars, which received just a tiny bit of attention across the world.


One of the most famous tweets ever put out came from the White House, as Barack and Michelle Obama celebrated re-election. Simple but very effective.


And the President got his own Twitter account - finally - in 2015, meaning we can look forward to many years of President Trump's musings once he's in office later this year...


For example...


Yes, don't worry, we weren't going to leave this one out. A legendary post summing up the frequent confusion of newcomers to the site, before they quite work out where the search and post boxes are. To Ed's eternal credit, this tweet still exists proudly on his timeline and it is celebrated with gusto every year.


Appropriately enough, one computing giant used the service to salute the life of another in 2011.


Like her or loathe her, little did most people know that they'd spend the next seven years being constantly bombarded with the every word of Kim Kardashian - whether they wanted to be or not.


And of course, her husband Kanye West. For many years he only followed one bemused man in Coventry, while constantly spouting nuggets of internet gold, including this all-time classic.


The site received a holy blessing in 2012 when then-Pope Benedict XVI joined the service. We're pretty sure he, and his successor Pope Francis don't type the words themselves, but the image of them lounging on a sofa in the Vatican idly thinking which motivational prayer to send out today is too good to let go.


Twitter offers a wonderful chance to look back at the thoughts and hopes of people just starting out, with Niall Horan from One Direction offering an almost perfect example. Didn't go too badly did it mate?


A very meta addition to the Twitter ranks was US fugitive Edward Snowden, who signed up last year and wasted no time in alerting people to the possible dangers of all-encompassing government surveillance.


Another great example of 'citizen journalism' was this extraordinary tweet and image of a passenger who happened to witness the incredible Hudson Bay plane landing in 2009.


And finally...there are few things more enjoyable than a good-old Twitter meltdown, and Charlie Sheen gave us one of the most memorable in 2011, with #winning and #tigerblood introduced into the public consciousness, to remain forever.