Memorable tweets of 2010: BP, Aussies, WikiLeaks, Palin, Vuvuzela, Pigspotter

The World Cup, the BP Gulf oil spill, Wikileaks, the launch of the iPad, Chilean miners… 2010 was a year with plenty of opportunities for online witticisms and criticisms. The 140-character-enforced brevity of Twitter means that it often distilled a current topic down to its essence. The phrase, “Did you see that tweet about…” became as common as the sound of vuvuzelas during this year.

Selecting the best tweets was no easy task: There were more than two-billion tweets posted on a monthly basis in 2010. Here’s ten of Memeburn’s favourites:

1. “Breaking News: Paris Hilton to be charged with ambush marketing, because the official FIFA product is Coke.” @GusSilber

The World Cup was filled with passionately patriotic moments and a lot of FIFA-bashing, but the absurdity of Paris Hilton being bust for smoking dagga gave South Africa a wholly unexpected new trending topic. Thanks to Silber’s wit, it also gave us one of the most hilarious tweets of the whole event.

2. “Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy.”@BPGlobalPR

Probably the most popular “fake” Twitter account of 2010, the satirical @BPGlobalPR gained over 60 000 followers with its razor-sharp tweets during the Mexican Gulf oil spill. The real BP even requested that @BPGlobalPR specify it was not the “real” PR department of BP. Yes, amazingly there were some people who thought BP was actually tweeting things like, “We just saw a shark fight an octopus inside the geyser. Almost made this whole thing worth it.”

3. “@usairforce find a way to let Doctors without Borders planes land in Haiti: THE most effective at this.”@AnnCurry

At the beginning of 2010 a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries. It was a tragedy that attracted an unprecedented global response in the online sphere. One of the most powerful tweets to come out was this one by MSNBC journalist Ann Curry. The reaction on Twitter helped create pressure on the US government to speed up clearance for relief efforts.

4. “Suck on that faggots! Probs the best game I’ve ever seen!! Well done boys”@ItsStephRice

Ah, Australia. Home to the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and refined young women like Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice. After Australia beat South Africa in the rugby Tri-Nations, Steph could not contain her antipodean enthusiasm and tweeted these immortal words. She later apologised, but it was too late to stop Jaguar cancelling a lucrative sponsorship deal.

5. “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”@SarahPalinUSA

The erstwhile Alaskan beauty queen has been tweeting prolifically this year. She even invented a new word when she asked Muslims to “refudiate” the mosque being built near Ground Zero. After this malapropism was heavily criticized, she used the Shakespeare defence. Which is a bit like Dan Brown saying, “Salman Rushdie did it too”.

6. “The sound of the vuvuzela is the only thing that can be heard from space.”@KhayaDlanga

Who would have thought a humble plastic horn could cause so much debate, so much fervour… so much noise? Both online and in stadiums, people raved about or rubbished the unique South African instrument. It even featured in an episode of The Simpsons. “Vuvuzela” was the second highest trending topic of the World Cup (after “FIFA World Cup”) and this tweet captured the zeitgeist of it all.

7. “The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton –”@ClarenceHouse

Restrained and typically English, this tweet announced to the world that there’s going to be another royal wedding. This not only delighted “when-we’s” and readers of Hello Magazine, but also gave Monarchists and Republicans something to fight about again.

8. “Unbelievable. 3 months underground and Apple STILL haven’t fixed the iPhone 4 antenna problem”@chilean_miner

Nobody quite captured the public’s imagination like the 33 miners trapped in a mineshaft in Chile. It took 69 days to rescue the men from their subterranean prison and even less time for them to become world-famous. The hilarious @Chilean_Miner account was one of many that kept the “disaster story with a happy ending” humming on Twitter.

9. “US Calls WikiLeaks ‘Worst Invasion of Privacy Since Facebook’” – @BorowitzReport

Wikileaks, the USA suppressing freedom of speech, Assange, and what exactly “sex by surprise” means, have all been huge topics on twitter. So trust the ever-brilliant and amusing Andy Borowitz to come out with a tweet that’s not only topical but also pokes fun at the social network that people love-hate, or just love to hate.

10. “I HAVE NOT BEEN ARRESTED!!!”@PigSpotter

Perhaps this year’s most famous South African on Twitter was @PigSpotter, aka “Cliff–that’s all”. He made international headlines when the JMPD (Johannesburg Metro Police Department) threatened to arrest him for “defamation” and “defeating the ends of justice”. @PigSpotter warns weary Joburg motorists about where the pigs, er, JMPD are trapping or taking bribes, bringing a smile to our faces with classic tweets such as, “Lonely eishbein showing off his photography skills on Louis Botha near McDonald’s.”



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