Top 10 most powerful tweets of 2010: Beyond breakfast babble?

Twitter announced its top 10 most 'powerful' tweets of 2010. Is this communication tool coming of age?

By , Staff

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    'Today' show co-host Ann Curry at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner in New York on Nov. 17. Her Haiti tweet was No. 1 on Twitter's top 10 most powerful tweets of 2010.

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Twitters Top 10 most powerful tweets of 2010 might be better cast as "Making a difference in 140 characters or less."

The No. 1 "most powerful" tweet was from the Today Show news anchor and Dateline host Ann Curry.

@usairforce find a way to let Doctors without Borders planes land in Haiti: http://bit.ly/8hYZOK THE most effective at this.

Right after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, the US military assumed control of the international airport. The relief organization, Doctors Without Borders, couldn't get the military to give them permission to land a plane with physicians aboard. Doctors tweeted the problem, and Curry took up the cause on Twitter as well, contacting Pentagon officials directly. The plane was allowed to land.

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During the first week after the Haiti quake, communication was spotty. Landlines and cellphone towers were knocked out or jammed by concerned relatives outside the country. The Christian Science Monitor relied on Twitter and text messages to get information - and stories - out of Haiti during that period.

Twitter's No 3 most powerful tweet was another example of low-bandwidth text messages. Leigh Fazzina did not have cellphone reception after she had a bicycling accident in Connecticut. But text messages don't require as strong a signal as voice calls (as the Monitor's Africa correspondent has discovered in places such as Congo). In Leigh's case, her tweet brought EMTs to her rescue.

I've had a serious injury and NEED Help! Can somone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I'm stuck bike crash in woods.

In some cases, Twitter is simply the vehicle of choice for the powerful to bypass the traditional media, and make a public announcement.

For example, No. 6:

The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton - www.princeofwales.gov.uk

Or, in Ecuador in September when leftist President Rafael Correa was faced with military and civil unrest, he used Twitter to declare martial law – and was rewarded with tweets of support from other leaders around Latin America.

Finally, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's first tweet on June 23, reportedly prompted this reply from the White House: "Red phones no longer required."

It's tempting to also see Twitter's Most Powerful Tweets list as simply marketing for the four-year-old company that's often poked fun at as enabling "babble broadcasting," a place for people to announce what they had for breakfast.

It's estimated that Twitter has 190 million users worldwide, tweeting 65 million times a day. But one study by Sysomos shows that 5 percent of the users make up 75 percent of the activity. And of those, almost one-third of the tweets are generated by machines.

Today, Twitter released their Top 10 Most Retweeted list, which offers a more entertaining look at how this communication tool is used. A personal favorite, from "alqaeda" (not verified) on Sept. 14:

Just noticed Twitter keeps prompting me to "Add a location to your tweets". Not falling for that one

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