Selfies, sport, celebrities and current affairs dominate Twitter in 2014

Top Australian tweets encompassed Federal Budget reactions, the missing MH370, ABC's QandA program and the World Cup

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In 2014, people around the world were celebrating, mourning, protesting and connecting. And thanks to the approximately 500 million tweets being posted every day this year, they were largely doing it on Twitter.

"Many millions of you contributed to the moments and conversations that all unfolded on Twitter," wrote Gabriel Stricker, Twitter's chief communications officer, in a blog post today. "Each [tweet] contributes something special to Twitter.... To look back on the best global moments from the year, we're unveiling #YearOnTwitter on 2014.Twitter.com."

So what was the most popular, the most retweeted, tweet of the year?

That accolade goes to comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who grabbed a selfie with a few of her celebrity friends, like Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, at the Oscar awards ceremony in March. The twitpic was favorited more than 2 million times and retweeted more than 3.3 million times.

Twitter wasn't all about celebrities and celebrations, though.

This year, millions of tweets were sent with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls in protest of a mass kidnapping in Nigeria. This map shows the hashtag's spread across the world.

Twitter also caught fire with tweets from around the world protesting electoral reforms in Hong Kong, using the hashtag #occupycentral, and protests about the police shooting a young black man in Ferguson, Mo. The incident and resulting protests prompted more than 18 million tweets.

Sports also played a big role on Twitter, where the biggest story was the World Cup. The competition led to more than 672 million tweets -- with the biggest peak of the year occurring during the championship game when 618,725 tweets a minute were sent.

In Australia, the top 10 most tweeted about moment this year was Australians marking 11am for Remembrance Day on 11 November.

Rounding out the top five tweets were Federal Budget reactions and the prime minister cancelling a Deakin University visit on 20 May; AFL player, Jack Viney, successfully appealing a two-week suspension on 8 May; Aussie band, 5 Seconds of Summer, winning at the MTV EMAs on 10 November; and World Cup conversations in the lead-up to the Australia versus Netherlands game (#Ausned) on 16 June.

The Australian list also reflected the dominance of current affairs, pop culture and sport on twitter, with other top 10 subjects including student disrupting the broadcast of QandA, and the 2014 Melbourne Cup.

The top retweeted tweet of 2014 in Australia was musician Lorde’s tweet about a photoshopped image of herself compared to the unaltered photo with the message “flaws are OK”. That tweet registered 73,619 retweets.

The top fastest-rising Twitter hashtag trends in Australia, meanwhile, included #auspol (discussion of Australian politics), #qanda (ABC TV panel show), #MH370 (Malaysian airlines plane), #AusOpen (Australian Open tennis tournament) and #mkr (My Kitchen Rules program on Channel Seven).

"Twitter gives a unique look into the hearts and minds of ourselves -- the good, the bad and the ugly," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "Twitter has become very important in how large groups of people exchange opinions, express themselves, share what's on their mind and even organize protests."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, noted that when Twitter was a young micro-blogging site, people largely tweeted about their favorite TV shows and what they were doing Saturday night.

That's all changed.

"Twitter isn't just for gossiping. It can have an impact on real issues," he said. "Twitter's list shows that we really care about the world and the well being of citizens. While we joke about social media being something to use to follow Katy Perry, most of the top Twitter topics this year, other than the World Cup, are all human interest issues. It's a great indicator of events that caused people an emotional response."

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