So, #ThisHappened on Twitter in 2016

The social network reveals its biggest and most memorable tweets in a year that was full of shockers.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
3 min read

A lot of crazy stuff happened in 2016, and much of it played out on Twitter.

The social network, which turned 10 in March, revealed its biggest moments of the year, dubbed #ThisHappened, late Monday -- or early Tuesday, depending on what part of the globe in you're in.

Make no mistake: Twitter became a battleground for this year's US presidential campaign. More than 40 million tweets were sent out on Election Day alone, surpassing the 31 million posts on Election Day in 2012.

Yet there was more in 2016. We all know about how Beyonce's "Lemonade" blew up pop culture and Twitter...

...but who would've thought that a gamer from Spain would have the most-retweeted tweet of the year (and the one with the most hearts), according to Twitter:

For all the hijinks on Twitter this year, though, and for all its prominence in pop and political culture, 2016 wasn't necessarily all that hot for Twitter, the company.

The social network, for example, seemed unable to decide which direction it should take, spurring an exodus of top executives despite the return of much-admired co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO. Twitter also had a hard time balancing its self-proclaimed role as a platform for expression against the need to control hate speech, reportedly prompting big-name suitors like Apple, Google, Disney and Salesforce to pass after Dorsey put the company up for sale.

Then there's the user problem -- as in Twitter didn't really add a whole lot of tweeters in 2016. Its growth in active users flatlined at 317 million people. In comparison, rival social network Facebook now has nearly 1.8 billion members, and Snapchat boasts 150 million daily users.

But back to the big retweets of 2016. The Spanish gamer tweet was followed by One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles maybe throwing some shade to his ex, pop princess Taylor Swift, when celebrating his 22nd birthday in February:

And then, rounding out the top three most-retweeted, there was Hillary Clinton's heartfelt tweet from her concession speech the day after losing the election to Donald Trump:

And, of course, let's not forget the president-elect, who used Twitter to his advantage to deliver his message to the masses -- a habit that shows no sign of slowing down:

Yet, for as much impact the election had on Twitter, it was -- surprisingly -- second in top global trends after the Rio Olympic Games.


And what an Olympic moment it was for US gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles. We saw her live out her teenage dream in Rio:

The social network showed how all of us went a little crazy running around the world once Pokemon Go hit the scene:

Meanwhile, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo proved he's the best player in the world, helping his homeland of Portugal win the Euro 2016 competition:

Did you see this one? US veep Joe Biden slipped Academy Awards host Chris Rock a $20 bill for some Girl Scout cookies while that #OscarsSoWhite hashtag raged.

Or the passing of legends Prince, Muhammad Ali and David Bowie:

Oh, you still have time this year to join in a Mannequin Challenge, the viral craze that's still going strong:

Yep, 2016 was a year we'll never forget.