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#LoveTwitter: The 10 key events and people that defined Twitter

Back when Twitter was founded in 2006, the microblogging service quickly became part of the “blogosphere” and its 140-character limit changed the world. Ten years later, the social media giant is valued at over $11 billion in annual revenue — though the company remains unprofitable — and has 332 million active users.

On its 10th anniversary, we thought we’d countdown the top 10 people and events that helped make Twitter what it is today.

1. The First Tweet

“Just setting up my twttr.” Those were the first words Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, @jack, used to inaugurate his social media network 10 years ago. Back then, the company was known, less compellingly, as “Twttr.”

The first-ever tweet send out by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey on March 21, 2006.

2. The First Employee

Crystal Taylor, @crystal, was the first official employee of Twitter, Inc. and the fifteenth Twitter account overall. She is still with the company as its Customer Support Manager. Twitter now has over 3,000 employees worldwide.

3. The Hashtag

Chris Messina invented the hastag back in 2007. (Screen capture)

Former employee Chris Messina, @chrismessina, brought the hashtag to Twitter in 2007, a simple device that allows users to wade through content. When he proposed the idea, it was rejected by the company. It caught on anyway.

4. The Retweet

Early Twitter adopter Tim O’Reilly, @timoreilly, popularized the retweet. An early Twitter client called twhirl offered a retweet feature and O’Reilly used it frequently, becoming the most prolific retweeter at the time. “It seemed the most natural thing in the world to do,” he wrote of retweeting in 2008. The retweet is now a standard feature of Twitter.

5. “Arrested” and “Free”

Arrested Tweet

When university student James Buck, @jamesbuck, was arrested by Egyptian authorities at an anti-government protest, he managed to share a one-word tweet: “Arrested.” Outcry followed and that simple tweet was the first to show that Twitter could be used to empower citizens and social movements. Buck was quickly released from prison, and once he was out, he tweeted out another word: “Free.” In 2011, the #ArabSpring hashtag continued to show Twitter’s power to unify.

6. Trends

Twitter’s chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury, @abdur, crunched the data behind millions of topics and hashtags flowing through Twitter and came up with the idea of trends. The trending box in the sidebar made its Twitter debut in September 2008.

7. The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Obama Tweet 2008 Election

Barack Obama’s landmark Presidential win in 2008 was the first year where social media played a major role in electing a U.S. President. At the time, a nascent Twitter was a key part of how younger Americans shared their political views with each other and influenced the political scene.

8. The Hudson Plane Crash

Hudson River crash tweet

When entrepreneur Janis Krums, @janiskrums, tweeted that he was headed towards a plane crash in New York’s Hudson River, he broke news. Twitter quickly became the source for journalists looking for first-person accounts and breaking news alerts. In 2011, IT consultant Sohaib Athar, @ReallyVirtualan, tweeted about a helicopter above Abbottabad at 1 a.m., which he would later learn were U.S. Navy Seals raiding Osama bin Laden’s home. Bin Laden was killed during the operation.

9. Follow Fridays

First Follow Fridays tweet. (Screen capture)

A day after the US Airways crash, Twitter user Micah Baldwin, @micah, decided to create #FF — Follow Fridays, the day where you promote your followers and (hopefully) they do the same. Nothing has ever been the same since.

10. The Ellen Selfie, Katy Perry

Ellen DeGeneres has the most-shared selfie ever on Oscar night, March 2, 2014.

Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscars remains the most re-tweeted Tweet ever. Pop star Katy Perry, @katyperry, also still holds the record for most-followed person on Twitter with 84.8 million followers.

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