In 2015, Twitter was a powerful tool used for solidarity, support, and activism during a tough year that was filled with hard news stories. According to Twitter’s Year in Review, the most popular news-related hashtags of the year included many difficult topics, from the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the November terrorist attacks in Paris to ISIS and the death of Sandra Bland.
Two of the most popular news-related hashtags of the year, according to Twitter, were #PrayForParis and #JeSuisCharlie, both of which trended after two terrorist incidents in Paris. #JeSuisCharlie became a rallying cry in support of freedom of expression after extremists bombed the Paris-based offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine.
#PrayForParis trended in November, in the wake of a terrorist attack in Paris that left more than 100 people dead. The hashtag was used by millions around the world to show global solidarity with and support for the French,
Another hashtag that turned into a movement was #BlackLivesMatter, which also ranked in Twitter’s top 10 news hashtags of the year. In 2015, millions used the it to draw attention to the treatment of black men and women, including the deaths of Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, and more. Though Black Lives Matter (BLM) started out as a hashtag, it also went beyond social media and grew into a full-fledged activist movement in 2015; presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had a meeting with BLM activists, and BLM protesters successfully interrupted a Democratic candidate forum at Netroots Nation to ask candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley what they would do to protect black lives.
The death of Sandra Bland, in particular, who died in police custody at a jail in Texas after being pulled over for a minor traffic violation, reverbated across Twitter. Bland’s name became a nationwide trend on Twitter as thousands sought answers about the circumstances around Bland’s death, using the hashtags #SandraBland and #JusticeForSandra. The hashtag #SandraBland was among Twitter’s top 10 most-used news hashtags of the year.
Also in heavy news stories, ISIS was among Twitter's top trend of the year, as well. There was no shortage of news about ISIS throughout the year, from the death of ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller in February to the ongoing threat of attack from ISIS that dominated national security debates here at home. Thousands used Twitter to share news of the growing terrorist group, and to seek more information about them.
It wasn’t all negative news, however. The most retweeted news-related post of the year was by President Obama on June 26, affirming his support for the historic Supreme Court decision announced that day which made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 United States. His tweet was retweeted by other users more than 447,000 times.
The hashtag #LoveWins also trended after the Supreme Court decision, and made it into Twitter’s top 10 news trends of the year. The phrase became a way for many around the country to celebrate the decision and show their support for the marriage equality movement. In a year full of tough news stories dominating conversations on social media, the Supreme Court decision was the one story that made Twitter's list that featured a positive, celebratory moment in the news.