RECAP: Top Social Media Events of 2014

Lauren Peek | @_LaurenPeek At the end of the year, many people take the time to look back on all that has happened during the past 12 months and reflect. Some big events happened in social media in 2014. As the year winds down, it's time to take a look at five of the biggest social media news stories of 2014. These events saw unprecedented growth and usage of social platforms.

In no particular order, here they are:

1. Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram have surpassed Twitter.  In 2014, Instagram's user numbers reached 300 million. Instagram's users are now sharing 70 million photos and videos every day. This is up from the 30 million users that Instagram had when they were bought by Facebook back in 2012. Twitter hovered around 285 million users at the end of September.  Pinterest also saw massive growth with the percentage of online adults using this social platform jumping from 15 to 21 percent. This was the highest growth rate of any of the social platforms in this category during 2014 and edged Pinterest past Twitter, sitting at 18 percent of online users. Tumblr surpassed all other social media sites in new user growth (120 percent)!

2. The 2014 World Cup. Held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the 2014 World Cup took social media (particularly Twitter) by storm. Twitter capitalized on the event by offering users "hashflags" in their tweets. (Unfortunately, these flags are no longer available and removed from tweets after the event was over). On the day of the final game between Germany and Argentina, there were 1.3 million #WorldCup hashtags used. There were 2.9 million #ARG hashtags and 3.5 million #GER hashtags used on gameday. The #WorldCup hashtag was used 24 million times during the event.

3. iCloud Hack. At the end of August, the iCloud accounts of more than 100 individuals, some of whom were A-list celebrities, were hacked and hundreds of photos (some nude or inappropriate) were leaked. The photos were shared via Reddit, imgur and other sites. Some stars confirmed that their accounts had been hacked and their photos shared while others denied it. The hack caused a huge scandal about nude photos and whether people should be taking and sharing them in the first place and sparked a discussion about account safety. People are still talking about the scandal months later.

4. Ellen DeGeneres' Academy Awards Selfie. This star-studded selfie featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong'o and her brother, plus Jared Leto, Kevin Spacey and Channing Tatum broke Twitter, which the Academy was happy to claim credit for. The photo had over 2.5 million retweets by Monday morning, less than 24 hours after it was taken. The photo currently has over 3.3 million retweets, making it the most retweeted tweet of 2014.

5. The Ferguson protests. Between August 9 and August 21, 2014, there were more than 18 million tweets about Ferguson. During the highest peak in Twitter activity during this period, there were more than 6,000 tweets per minute about Ferguson. After the grand jury's decision in November, there were more than 3.5 million tweets about Ferguson on November 24 alone.

Indubitably there were many other significant social media news events during the year. What others would you add to this list?