In 2015, hashtags became the most popular way to express emotions or debate a controversial topic on social media. From terrorist attacks to natural calamities, every event around the world had a hashtag of its own. We bring you the top 25 of the year ...



Trending: September 16 onwards 
Racial profiling and anti-Muslim sentiment was given a big ‘NO’ this year on social media. Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student at MacArthur High School in Texas, US, was suspended from school after his teacher mistook his science project, a homemade clock, for a bomb. On September 16, a picture of Ahmed in handcuffs went viral, the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed started the conversation of profiling. People from all over the world promptly showed support for the teenager. This hashtag went viral, it even reached Obama’s radar, who then invited Ahmed to join him at the White House.



Trending: Month of January
On January 7, 12 people were killed at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. They were attacked by militants for publishing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH]. #JeSuisCharlie became a statement in support of the slain journalists.



Trending: Throughout the year
This hashtag was created following George Zimmerman’s bigoted law enforcement of Trayvon Martin. On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student. The hashtag gained popularity after the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, causing riot and unrest. Ever since, any killing or injustice against blacks is being protested on Twitter through this hashtag that has seen an international outcry against racial profiling and injustice.



Trending: Month of November 
The world came together after the terrorist attack in Paris, driven by Daesh. Terror ran through the streets of the city of love, on the evening of November 13, 2015 as the world watched innocents being carried into hospitals or lying dead. A series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, the capital of France, and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. Three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafés, restaurants, and a concert hall in Paris. The attackers killed 130 people, including 89 at the Bataclan theatre, where they took hostages before engaging in a stand-off with police. There were 368 people who were wounded. The haunting event gave birth to many other hashtags like #PeaceforHumanity.



Trending: Started on February 26

How can anyone forget the dress? The dress that Cecilia Bleasdale bought to wear at her daughter’s Grace’s wedding. Was it #blueandblack or was it #whiteandgold? For a few days in late February and early March, hundreds of millions of people including celebrities like Taylor Swift, Ellen DeGeneres, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, all had an opinion. The dress was later confirmed to be #blueandblack. The viral phenomenon came to be known as Dressgate.



Trending: Month of July

The Greek withdrawal from the eurozone is the potential discontinuation of the euro as the national currency of Greece and the resulting Greek exit from the eurozone monetary union. This is also known as the “Grexit”, a portmanteau of the words “Greek exit”. Greece’s debt crisis began in 2010, most international banks and foreign investors sold their Greek bonds and other holdings. The other crisis countries in the eurozone, like Portugal, Ireland and Spain, took steps to overhaul their economies and are much less vulnerable to market contagion than they were a few years ago. The Greek government was running out of time and money.



Trending: July 14 - 20

On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons probe lifted the veil on Pluto when it performed the first-ever flyby of the faraway dwarf planet, zooming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of its frigid surface. The close encounter gave researchers their first up-close looks at Pluto, which has remained mysterious since its 1930 discovery. The first-ever flyby of Pluto was a big success. Pictures of a heart-shape on Pluto and memes made rounds on the internet.



Trending: Between July and September

Formerly Bruce Jenner, who won the 1976 Olympic decathlon title at the Montreal Summer Olympics during the Cold War, and later set a third successive world record while winning the Olympics. Traditionally, the winner of the Olympic decathlon is given the unofficial title of “world’s greatest athlete.” With that stature, Jenner subsequently established a career in television, film, authoring, as a Playgirl cover model, auto racing and business. In April 2015, Jenner revealed his identity as a trans woman in April 2015 and publicly announced her name change from Bruce to Caitlyn in a July 2015 Vanity Fair cover story. Her name and gender change became official on September 25, 2015. She is now the most famous openly transgender woman in the world.



Trending: Month of July

Cecil, a male Southwest African lion, lived in the Hwange National Park in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe. The lion was a major attraction at the park, he interacted with humans and was being studied and tracked by the University of Oxford as part of a study. Cecil was wounded with an arrow by Walter Palmer, an American recreational big-game hunter. The lion was then tracked for nearly 40 hours, and on July 1, 2015 was killed with a rifle. He was 13 years old when killed. The killing drew attention on social media and sparked outrage among animal conservationists, politicians and celebrities, as well as a strong negative response against Palmer



Trending: November 22 - December 15

In December, world leaders gathered in Paris to complete a new global climate agreement – an extraordinary opportunity for the international community to meet the threat of climate change. To achieve a world where everyone lives with dignity and opportunity – a vision leaders embraced in the global goals for sustainable development – we must take strong action on climate change. The hashtag has garnered over 1.4 billion impression till date.



Trending: Last two weeks in April

April saw the emergence of a trend sweeping social media, in which youngsters attempted plumping their lips using bottles or shot glasses, in hopes of emulating Kylie’s bee-stung pout. The reportedly painful method involved participants placing their mouth over the opening of a cup or other narrow vessels and sucking in until the air vacuum causes their lips to swell up. The experiment in many cases led to severe bruising around the mouth. The online fad however was not started or endorsed by Kylie Jenner herself. On her Twitter account, she reponded: “I’m not here to try and encourage people/young girls to look like me or to think this is the way they should look... I want to encourage people/young girls like me to be yourself and not be afraid to experiment with your look.” Countless teens, shared the disturbing results of their experiments on Twitter and Instagram.


#IamAylan #RefugeeCrisis

Trending: September 3

On September 3, a heartbreaking image of a baby boy washed up on a beach in Turkey brought to light the crisis of Syrian refugees. Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, along with his five-year-old brother Ghalib, and their mother, Rehan, drowned while trying to escape the increasing violence in Syria. They began their voyage in the dead of night in five-foot seas. After their boat capsized their father, Abdullah, tried desperately to keep the boys afloat but to no avail. A day after the tragedy Abdullah said,”Even if you give me all the countries in the world, I don’t want them. What was precious is gone.” The horrific image shocked the world and everyone took to social media to come in solidarity and deal with the Syrian refugee crisis. #RefugeesWelcome, the resulting hashtag is perhaps the most powerful public sentiment of 2015.



Trending: First two weeks of December

On 1 December, heavy rains led to inundation in many areas of Chennai, India. By afternoon, power supplies were suspended to 60% of the city while several city hospitals stopped functioning, Chennai was officially declared a disaster area on the evening of 2 December. While bridges collapsed, floodgates opened and people were confined to their homes, citizens came together on social media channels to coordinate efforts to send or seek help with accommodation, food and rescue relief. Chennairains.org created a Google spreadsheet listing helpline numbers, aid offers and requests, rescue requests, volunteer details and accommodation details that was widely shared, people filled in details or provided necessary information to volunteers who worked all night. Social media helped bring these volunteers from other cities and countries.



Trending: June to July

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup was the seventh FIFA Women’s World Cup, the quadrennial international women’s football world championship tournament. Tweets on the subject were viewed 9 billion times, making the tournament one of the greatest sporting events of the year. In March 2011, Canada won the right to host the event, the first time the country would host the tournament and the third time it has been held in North America. Matches were played in six cities across Canada in five time zones. The tournament began on 6 June 2015, and finished with the finals on 5 July 2015 with a United States victory over Japan.




Trending: Last week of April

The April 25, 2015 Nepal earthquake also known as the Gorkha earthquake killed over 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000. With a magnitude of 7.8Mw or 8.1Ms and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of IX (Violent), the earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest. Its epicenter was east of the district of Lamjung, and its hypocenter was at a depth of approximately 8.2 kilometers. Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless and entire villages flattened. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Continued aftershocks occurred throughout Nepal at the intervals of 15–20 minutes, with one shock reaching a magnitude of 6.7 on 26 April. The country also had a continued risk of landslides. Social media users around the world used the hashtag to get updates about the victims and came together to donate and send relief to the affected region.



Trending: May 4 to 7

Rihanna showed up to the Met Gala 2015 in a very meme-able dress. The yellow dress by Chinese designer Guo Pei had the Internet reacting hilariously quite immediately. RiRi’s golden gown was compared to many things like a bedspread, eggs, pizza and Big Bird. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala benefit hosted the museum’s exhibit “China: Through the Looking Glass” on May 4, 2015 in New York. Rihanna’s fur-trimmed yellow cape was so massive that it took three handlers to help



Trending: October - November

The British songstress broke record after record with the rollout of her third studio album, “25. The words “Hello, it’s me...” set social media ablaze on October 23rd, the release day of Adele’s new hit single Hello. Breaking the record for most digital sales in a single week by almost double, the ballad climbed to international fame on music charts across the world.



Trending: Throughout the year

According to Twitter, the tweets that were retweeted the most in 2015 include tweets from nearly every member of the band One Direction. In fact, the most retweeted tweet of the year was sent by Harry Styles after Zayn Malik’s announcement in March that he was leaving the band. Styles’ friendly and simple message, “All the love always. H...” resulted in more than 700,000 retweets.

The next four most retweeted tweets came from Zayn Malik’s support for his former band’s song, “Drag Me Down,” and Liam Payne’s tweet celebrating the band’s five-year anniversary. One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson appears on the list with a tweet to fans that was retweeted 413,044 times.



Trending: February 22 onwards

The lack of nominees of color in the list of nominees for Oscars 2015, spurred April Reign to create the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. Reign, a lawyer, blogger and social media professional was frustrated by the near shutout of “Selma” star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay in the acting and directing categories. She wasn’t alone in her sentiment; when she tweeted #OscarsSoWhite it immediately went viral, with 95,000 tweets per hour. News organisations like The Huffington Post joined the bandwagon on the hot topic, and even late night host Jimmy Fallon tweeted: “This year’s Oscar nominees are so white, they just became the frontrunner for the 2016 Republican nomination.”



Trending: August- December

AlDub is the term coined for the accidentally paired Filipino couple, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza. The latter plays a fictional character named “Yaya Dub” on a segment called kalye serye (street series) in the noontime show, Eat Bulaga. She is named so because her character speaks entirely in dubsmash, which was also what catapulted her to youtube fame. After Maine was caught admiring Alden on a monitor, an idea was born. Yaya Dub’s character was supposed to be a grumpy nanny who never smiles and always dubmashes. But when Alden watched her doing her act, she slipped out of character, becoming self-conscious and smiling slightly. Their on-screen chemistry developed organically and unfolded over the split screen as obstacles cropped up one after another to prevent the two from meeting in person. When the two finally met, fans let their joy be heard through Twitter.




Trending: August - December

This year saw more than 1 million asylum seekers and migrants arrive on the shores of Europe, according to the UN — that’s about four times the figure of last year. After Austrian and German officials first authorised the entry of refugees from Hungary in September, both countries were flooded by thousands of people who had already travelled hours on foot.A few hours after the announcement, the #RefugeesWelcome hashtag had emerged to show support for the incoming migrant population.



Canada’s 42nd general election followed an 11-week campaign saw several hashtags being established to comment on various scandal and policy announcements. It wasn’t just Canadians using the hashtag, users from around the world joined the online conversation encouraging Canadians to vote while weighing in on political issues.



Social media has become the new battleground for the 2016 US presidential elections. According to social marketing and analytics software provider Jumpshot, Twitter and YouTube accounted for more than half of traffic to candidate websites. Controversial Republican candidate Donald Trump generated more social engagement than any other candidates during the December debate with more than half a million mentions during the most recent GOP debate.



SeaWorld’s Twitter campaign backfires. It was a monumental mistake, according to Till of Chatter Buzz Media. “From animal activists to Internet trolls, everybody joined in on the party to scrutinize and humiliate the theme park.” PETA, for example, posted this question: “Why do you lie and tell guests collapsed dorsal fins are normal when only 1 percent suffer this in the wild?” SeaWorld said its Q&A had been hijacked by “bots and bullies,” according to CNN. Today, the #AskSeaWorld hashtag still elicits loaded questions.



Trending: June, 2015

Narendra Modi continued his strong social media presence from 2014 and in 2015 nearly quadrupled his followers from four million when he came into office in May 2014 to 17 millions followers, becoming the second most popular world leader US President Barack Obama in 2015. With his #SelfieWithDaughter campaign, promoting gender equality and his #SaalEkShuruaatAnek (One year, many beginnings) marking his one year in office, Modi was responsible for two of the top five trends in India this year.