Twitter took over the world in 2010. Even people who had previously disdained it — ahem, Kanye — started tweeting like crazy and referencing “Twitpics” and “hashtags” in everyday conversation. Lil Wayne used Twitter as a means of keeping up with his fans while serving his prison sentence, Courtney Love posted naked Twitpics of herself, Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You” went viral through the social networking site, and a million rabid Justin Bieber fans tweeted death threats at Kim Kardashian after he joked that she was his girlfriend. It was a crazy year, and we followed the ups and downs with our weekly feature Follow Friday.
Here’s a look back at five of the biggest Twitter events of 2010 (and the stars who made them happen):
5. Lady Gaga dies… on Twitter, anyway @ladygaga
The pop star — along with Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Serena Williams, and Usher — sacrificed her social networking life in order to raise money for Keep a Child Alive, an organization that provides resources and support for children in Africa and India who are affected by HIV/AIDS. She and the other celebs pledged not to tweet or use Facebook until $1 million had been raised, urging their diehard fans to donate, donate, donate in order to “buy back” their lives. It was the first time Twitter had been used in such a way, and given its success (Lady Gaga is back and tweeting up a storm!), it probably won’t be the last.
4. Snacks the Cat becomes an indie icon @snacksthecat
Thanks to Twitter, the indie rock community got its own personal mascot in 2010: an adorable cat named Snacks, who spent the year traveling around the world with his owner, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. The subject of many of Cosentino’s tweets and Twitpics, Snacks eventually got his own Twitter — and currently has almost 5,000 followers (which is quite a big following for a furry critter who — as far as we know — can’t actually type). The satirical blog Hipster Runoff has an entire profile for the cat, who they’ve deemed an “alternative celebrity.” Amazingly, a girl who dressed up as Snacks for Halloween won Hipster Runoff’s costume contest by a landslide and then became an indie icon in her own right, known forevermore as “Snacks the Cat Girl.” She even caught the attention of Cosentino, who tweeted, “wtf is snacks the cat girl… and why are people so freaky????” Hey, you started it, Bethany.
3. Jay Reatard’s last days are documented in tweets @jayreatard
Just a few days into 2010, tragedy struck in the music community: Garage rocker Jay Reatard, 29, was found dead in his home. The official cause of death was cocaine toxicity, exacerbated by alcohol use, but even after the autopsy results were released, many of his friends, family, and fans still felt like there were questions that needed to be answered. His Twitter account — which he was still updating on Jan. 11, just three days before his body was discovered — became a source of relief for those who loved him, as well as a documentation of the last few days of his life. His last tweet? “I will give anyone a hundred bucks per tire that they pop on the band liquor stores van! Yes I’m serious.”
2. M.I.A. battles Lynn Hirschberg @_M_I_A_
This past May, writer Lynn Hirschberg — famous for annihilating Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain in a 1992 Vanity Fair profile that Love claimed was the catalyst for Cobain’s suicide — encountered the rage of another star: M.I.A. She wrote a less-than-flattering profile of the hip-hop icon for the New York Times Magazine, painting her as a political hypocrite who tries to come across as “down with the people” while wearing head-to-toe designer clothes and eating truffled french fries at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. When the article was published, M.I.A. was infuriated — and she decided to take action on Twitter. She posted Hirschberg’s cell phone number, writing, “CALL ME IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE N Y T TRUTH ISSUE, ill b taking calls all day bitches.” She then posted her own personal recording of the Hirschberg interview on her record label’s blog — along with a new song called “Haters,” which took aim at Hirschberg with lines like, “Why the hell would a journalist be thick as shit?””
1. Kanye West joins Twitter @ kanyewest
With a few simple words — “Up early in the morning taking meetings in Silicone Valley” — Kanye West announced his presence on Twitter… and ignited a revolution. Within hours, he had more than 200,000 followers — a few days later, he was pushing 500,000. “#Thisisagloriousoccasion!” he tweeted, and it really was. Even his most mundane tweets seemed to offer a glimpse into a golden life that very few people are privileged enough to have, a life that allows you to replace your bottom row of teeth with diamonds, drink out of jewel-encrusted goblets, and make national news when you re-tweet Justin Bieber. He took advantage of his huge following to promote his fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, before it was released, posting Twitpics of the “Banned in the USA!!!” cover artwork and leaking early versions of songs like “Monster” to whet people’s appetites for the real deal. Not only did his presence on the site help him rehabilitate his image after the Taylor Swift fiasco of 2009, it helped boost album sales as well.