If a picture is worth a thousand words, then that’s a whole lot of 140-character tweets.
Since Twitter launched in 2006, it has grown to 200 million monthly active users and has become a hotbed for sharing photos. People have used the site to make news, break news, and spark social and political action across the globe.
While the service is best known for its text-based interface, it’s the photos attached to them that have often propelled Twitter to the public consciousness.
These are some of the posted photographs that made an impact — either in their influence, reach, or capacity to act as a milestone for the social media site that’s now approaching an IPO.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted his first (and notably upside-down) picture through Twitpic on July 11, 2008. And so it begins...
The 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, led to Twitter's 'coming of age.' The site published an estimated 80 tweets every five seconds providing eyewitness accounts and updates about the attacks. User Nimish R Parekh tweeted this picture on March 30 with the caption, 'Candle light march on marine drive in Mumbai.'
When US Airways flight 1549 crash-landed into the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, Twitter users broke news of the incident about 15 minutes before traditional news outlets. So many people tried to view this iconic image uploaded by Janis Krums that Twitpic crashed.
After the Egyptian revolution began on January 25, 2011, Twitter was awash with powerful images and the world began to realise the power of social media to catalyze social movements.
With his March 11, 2011, inaugural tweet displaying himself with one of his 'goddesses,' Charlie Sheen proved to the world that Twitter can be a medium for a very public kind of trainwreck. He's in the Guinness Book of World Records for 'Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers'
Stefanie Gordon captured and tweeted the most unique photo of the last Space Shuttle Endeavour launch on May 16, 2011. Even before Gordon's photo made a splash, NASA recognised that it could harness the power of Twitter and invited 150 of its followers to a behind-the-scenes perspective of the launch.
Anjali Mullany tweeted this photo of the Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people on Oct. 1, 2011 during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Within 24 hours of the Sept. 16 Zuccotti Park occupation, roughly one in every 500 Twitter hashtags represented the movement, according to Reuters.
Shortly after winning his second term in office in November 2012, President Obama made Twitter history when this sweet moment became the most retweeted ever, stealing the record from Justin Bieber. Scout Tufankjian took the photograph several months earlier at a rally in Iowa.
Justin Bieber tweeted about this photo, 'RIP Avalanna. i love you,' and got the second-most retweets of all time, at 200,000-plus. Bieber also has the most Twitter followers: more than 40 million.
Twitter user Boston_to_a_T uploaded this photo to his Twitter account one minute after a bomb exploded at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, breaking the news before anyone even understood what was happening.
International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield didn't post the first-ever tweet from space, but he did become a Twitter sensation this year because of his amazing messages from above the Earth. This was his final tweet sent on May 13 before leaving the ISS.
Twitter played an important role in broadcasting the Turkish protests to the world despite a serious domestic media blackout. Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan even blamed Twitter for the unrest, calling the site a menace to society. The New York Post tweeted this popular photo on May 31, but 90% of geotagged protest-related tweets came from inside the country (compared to 30% of geotagged tweets on Egypt-related hashtags in 2011).
Krista Seiden made CBS news when she tweeted a collection of some of the first images of the San Francisco Asiana Boeing 777 crash on July 6, 2013.
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