10 years of Twitter: The tweets that changed lives

Sumita Dalmia and Anuj.Image copyright
Sumita Dalmia

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Sumita Dalmia met her partner Anuj on Twitter

Ten years after Jack Dorsey launched Twitter with the words “just setting up my twttr”, the micro-blogging site has become a feature of millions of people’s lives – but for some it has been life changing.

From a 140-character marriage proposal to inspiring a revolution from the comfort of a sofa, people have been sharing their stories to mark 10 years of Twitter.

The first Twitter marriage proposal

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Flickr: Greg Rewis

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Stephanie and Greg Rewis married in 2009 after he proposed on Twitter

When American Greg Rewis was thinking of an unusual way to propose to his then girlfriend Stephanie, he decided to tweet her after she had turned him down on a private messaging service.

“The proposal started as a joke” he told BBC News. “I was talking to Steph on an instant messenger and asked her if she wanted to marry me. She said that I had never asked her in a proper way. So I posted on Twitter and told her to refresh her feed. It simply looked like it was the right moment.

“It was quite a shock when I found out that this was the first proposal on Twitter. Had we known it was the first time, we would have made it more impressive. I would have planned everything way better.

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Twitter: Greg Rewis

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Twitter: Stephanie Rewis

“We now live together and split our time between Phoenix and California, but I have to travel a lot for work. We still use Twitter to stay in touch and actually we live-tweeted our wedding a year after the proposal in 2009.”

‘I met my husband on Twitter’

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Sumita Dalmia

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Sumita Dalmia was surprised when her boyfriend used the social media platform to arrange their engagement

Sumita Dalmia, from Atlanta, has won almost $10,000 worth of prizes through Twitter over the past few years, so it came as no surprise to her friends and family when a Twitter chat led her to true love.

“I was searching for tickets one day in September 2013 on Twitter for Jazzoo, an annual event held at Zoo Atlanta” Sumita told BBC News.

“I searched “jazzo tickets” and Anuj Patel’s (my now fiancé) tweet popped up.

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“He had already given up his ticket but his biography on Twitter caught my attention because he works in sports and entertainment, which is a field I was very much interested in getting into.

“We started chatting and tweeting turned into direct messaging and then emailing, and then texting, and phone calls, and then we met in person. The rest is history I guess!”

In September 2013, Anuj arranged an elaborate proposal for Sumita which was Twitter themed. After sending her on a treasure hunt around Atlanta by sending her tweets, Anuj got down on one knee on a helicopter landing pad in the centre of the city, holding a large Tweet poster asking her to marry him.

Teenager’s take on UK election changes debate

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Twitter: Abby Tomlinson

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Abby Tomlinson now plans to study politics at university

During the 2015 UK general election, 18-year-old Abby Tomlinson, from Merseyside, helped to create the hashtag #Milifandom after she felt the then Labour leader Ed Miliband was not getting fairly treated by the press.

“I decided that I wanted to play an active role and my admiration for Ed Miliband started,” she said.

The hashtag soon became the number one Twitter trend in the UK and unveiled a cult following for Miliband. It didn’t help his fortunes in the election but it has changed Abby’s life.

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Twitter: Abby Tomlinson

“The next day, a couple more news organisation got in touch and wrote articles and I started doing interviews. Then a couple of weeks later, Ed rang me up to thank me.

“I would say Twitter changed my life in a way because it helped me decide what I wanted to do. I was always interested in politics and I’ve always enjoyed writing, but this gave me a chance to write for prestigious media outlets.

‘I found a career through Twitter’

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Marwa Mammoon

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Marwa Mammoon used Twitter to find a new career after the Egyptian revolution in 2011

Marwa Mammoon, from Egypt, is a BBC journalist, but in 2011 she was a stay-at-home mum. Pregnant with her second child and unable to take part in public demonstrations during the Egyptian revolution, she activated her Twitter account and changed her life.

“I was sitting at home but I was being politically active” she said.

“I would pick a new topic every couple of weeks, such as female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and other women’s issues which mattered in the Arab world and would write about them.

“I didn’t realise what influence I had. I was just ranting. Then before I knew it, I was named on Twitter as one of the most influential women in the Arab world.

“The next day all the political parties in Egypt were trying to get me to join them. I was broke and needed a job though so I sent out a funny tweet appealing for a job.

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Twitter: Marwa Mammoon

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Translation: “I need a job without a boss, that fills my pocket with no soul less, I need a job that spreads some hope, I need to work, I need a job!”

“For most of the time this was happening I was tweeting from a broken phone which had half a broken screen.

“I wasn’t a journalist, I had worked in marketing but ended up working as a chief editor of a website which was set up by an American investor.”

The website was a success and after a few years Marwa left to work for the United Nations. She then worked Radio Netherlands before joining the BBC.

Compiled by Hannah Henderson and Michael Ertl

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