A Look Back at Social Media in 2016

A Look Back at Social Media in 2016

2016 has been an eventful year for social media filled with new innovations, new features, viral videos, bizarre trends, celebrity deaths, fads, political craziness and entertainment. Let’s take a look back at what happened on social media in 2016:

Facebook Year in Review

Facebook released a video looking back at everything from major global news to amusing viral videos like Chewbacca Mom to remember what was on our minds in 2016 and the moments we shared together.

They also highlighted the most talked about global topics in 2016 including:

  1. US Presidential Election
  2. Brazilian Politics
  3. Pokemon Go
  4. Black Lives Matter
  5. Rodrigo Duterte & Philippine Presidential Election
  6. Olympics
  7. Brexit
  8. Super Bowl
  9. David Bowie
  10. Muhammad Ali

Youtube Rewind

YouTube’s “Rewind” video, featuring celebrities and social media stars released earlier this month highlighted all the fun, weird and hilarious “challenges” that surfaced during the year. They also created a playlist of the top trending global videos of 2016. Adele’s enthusiastic Carpool Karaoke came out on top

Another hilarious video that also made the list is the one where a cruel brother convinces little sister of a zombie apocalypse:

#Challenges- the good, the bad and the “why-would-you-do-that’s”:

We all remember the disastrous #KylieJennerChallenge or the spooky #CharlieCarlieChallenge from 2015.  2016 wasn’t any less: arguably, the most popular one was called the #MannequinChallenge which had large groups of people — including Hillary Clinton — freezing in place while a camera panned around the room and “Black Beatles” played in the background. While this may be the most memorable, there were plenty of other bizarre trends (#100layerschallenge) that kept people busy all year on social media. Here’s a look at a few of them (Business Insider, 2016)

Emerging Trend of the Year:

“No question – Pokemon Go was the biggest trend to emerge in the year. Sadly, it ended up being merely a flash in the pan – arguably, even a tsunami in the pan – but nonetheless, a passing fad” (Mumbrella, 2016)

Popular Hashtags:

#BlackLivesMatter continued to trend into this year. Hillary Clinton’s campaign hashtag #ImWithHer amassed millions of engagements along with Trump-created #NastyWoman. According to Twitter, #Rio2016, #Brexit, #PokemonGo, #Oscars #RIP, #Euro2016 and #GameOfThrones were among the top ranked global trends this year.


In the wake of several terror attacks that shook us all to our cores (Syria, Nice, Orlando, Turkey, Paris, Berlin), people around the world used social media to pay tributes to the victims. In what has become a heartbreaking routine this year, people have been sharing their shock, outrage and solidarity using hashtags like #AleppoIsBurning, #PrayForNice, #PrayForOrlando.

Celebrity deaths:

This year we have seen a host of some of our best-loved celebrities pass away. From actors and comedians to musicians, every death shook social media and resulted in a stream of tributes being shared either by individuals or brands (some heartfelt and some cringeworthy). Starting with the sad news of David Bowie’s death in January, we’ve since had a stream of household names who have died including music legend Prince, Harry Potter star Sir Alan Rickman and Muhammad Ali.


We saw how social media shaped the 2016 presidential campaign. On one hand, it proved to be the perfect medium to mobilize the youth and people who normally wouldn’t care about politics. It proved to be the go-to-source for people looking to keep themselves informed about the political environment. On the other hand, “it brought out the darker side of digital introverts and amplified slanted views or political biases. During the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election it became quite clear that social could not be more powerful or dangerous. President-elect Donald Trump used Twitter as his personal megaphone and his tweets guided media coverage and, in many ways, drove more attention than any other press conference, debate or rally” (Network World, 2016).

Twitter activity spiked during the #Brexit vote. There were 13,300 tweets sent a minute during U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation speech after #Brexit (Plucinska, 2016)

Then there were the trends that changed the face of social media as we know it. Here are a few of them as reported by Sharmaine Carter (2016) :

  • Live Video – In 2016, we’ve seen Live Video grow in popularity with the launch of Facebook Live as well as the streaming app, Periscope.
  • Stories– We saw Instagram come up with their own version of Snapchat’s, “My Story”.
  • Mobile Optimization-Social media platforms continuously directed their efforts towards optimizing the mobile experience. Instagram and Snap are exclusively mobile; Facebook and Twitter made mobile functionality top priority.
  • Social Commerce and Advertising –We saw new advertising options from Instagram and Pinterest as well as new features like Slideshow Ads and Canvas from Facebook.
  • Echo Chambers and Influence-Due to Facebook’s algorithms and ranked stories based on user engagement, users are presented with news stories that reaffirm their beliefs and shielded opposing viewpoints.
  • Fun –We saw more playful features added to social media platforms such as snap filters, stories and image text for Instagram, and emoji reactions for Facebook!

2017- The Year ahead:

We hope 2017 will be just as eventful as 2016- minus the deaths and the tragedies. We look forward to how this year will roll out on social media. Watch out for our next recap in December 2017. Have a happy new year!

حملة #هويتي_لغتيThe Internet Challenge Trends

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