Football dominates UK Twitter chat in 2013

By Dave Lee
Technology reporter, BBC News

image caption10th: England beat Poland 2-0 on 15 October to qualify for the Brazil 2014 World Cup, and causing the 10th-biggest spike of the year in UK Twitter traffic
image caption9th: Folk rock band Mumford & Sons close the Glastonbury Festival on 30 June
image caption8th: Bayern Munich beat FC Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League semi-final on 23 April
image caption7th: England defeat Scotland 3-2 during an international friendly on 14 August
image caption6th: Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup final - their first major trophy - defeating Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on 11 May
image caption5th: Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on 30 April in the Champions League semi-final
image caption4th: England draw 2-2 with Brazil on 2 June - the first game to be played at the reopened Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro
image caption3rd: Andy Murray wins Wimbledon on 7 July, making him the first male British singles champion since 1936
image caption2nd: New Year's Eve celebrations have seen tweets become a popular alternative to the "traditional" text message
image caption1st: Manchester United were beaten by Real Madrid on 5 March, knocking them out of the Champions League but securing them the biggest spike in UK Twitter traffic

Football dominated the list of Twitter "surges" among users in 2013, the social network has revealed.

Real Madrid knocking Manchester United out of the Champions League caused the biggest spike among its UK-based users during the year.

Other popular moments were Andy Murray's Wimbledon win, Mumford & Sons at Glastonbury, and New Year's Eve.

But when it came to retweets, it was the boys from pop band One Direction who stood out.

Three of the top five most retweeted messages were from the group, with "Yesss ! I'm 20 ! Wohooo ! No more teens!" from band member Niall being shared 375,000 times.

Yet the two most popular retweets worldwide were not about celebration, but tragedy.

Glee star Lea Michele thanked fans for their messages of support and condolence after the death of co-star and real-life partner Cory Monteith - a message that was shared 408,000 times.

And more recently, a post confirming the death of Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker drew 400,000 retweets.

Great goals

As Twitter enters 2014 as a publicly owned company, much of its strategy for generating profit will centre on being the "second screen" app of choice - that is, being the place people go to to chat and read about major events as they unfold, either in real life or, most often, on television.

This theory was evident in 2013, with armchair sports fans causing eight of the 10 biggest "tweet surges" in the UK.

image captionGlee's Lea Michele had the year's most retweeted post

With the exception of Andy Murray's tennis triumph, all were about football.

"Football dominated the most-tweeted-about moments in terms of tweets-per-second," said Lewis Wiltshire, head of media partnerships at Twitter UK.

"The natural way you react when you see a great goal is to grab your phone."

Abusive tweets

Excited chatter aside, Twitter's year will also be remembered for less positive reasons.

"Trolling" on the platform is on the rise, police say, while high-profile instances of bullying also made the headlines.

media captionStella Creasy and Toby Young debate how best to deal with Twitter trolls

MP Stella Creasy was among those who received death threats and sexually explicit abuse on Twitter. Others, like academic Mary Beard, were sent bomb threats.

"There are more than 500 million tweets a day on Twitter," said Mr Wiltshire.

"The overwhelming number are positive. There'll always be one or two people want to highlight."

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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