Tweet-worthy milestones from Twitter's first 10 years

It's time to wish Twitter a happy 10th birthday -- in 140 characters or less. On Monday, the microblogging site celebrated one decade of hashtags, trending topics, and tweets that have spread virally around the world.

"Throughout the years, you've made Twitter what it is today and you're shaping what it will be in the future. Thank you for making history, driving change, lifting each other up and laughing together every day," Twitter declared in a blog post.

The social media site began with one very humble tweet March 21, 2006, with co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey writing "just setting up my twttr."

just setting up my twttr

— Jack (@jack) March 21, 2006

That simple message would pave the way for newsmaking, re-tweetable commentary on everything from the Arab Spring uprisings to the U.S. presidential campaigns to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Hashtags

In August 2007, the hashtag (#) was first introduced by Chris Messina as a way to unify conversations around big topics. It became a phenomenon in itself, and helped drive coverage of major news events like the Boston Marathon bombings (#BostonStrong) and outrage over the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the extremist group Boko Haram (#BringBackOurGirls), as well as unforgettable pop culture moments like the uproar over #TheDress and the birth of Prince George of Cambridge (#RoyalBaby).

But while many individual events have galvanized Twitter conversations over the past 10 years, the most popular hashtag of all is the simple #FF -- or "follow Friday" -- which has generated 539 million mentions over the years.

Emoji

For mobile users who are big emoji fans, want to know what the most tweeted emoji has been? According to Twitter, it's the "tears of joy" symbol, a smiley face that is laughing so hard it's crying. That emoji has been tweeted 14.5 billion times to date.

Most mentions

The most mentioned person on the site is not a president, prime minister, or activist. Instead, it's pop star Justin Bieber, who has been cited 943 million times. Singer Katy Perry is the most followed person, with 84 million follows to date. The event that generated the most tweets per minute was 2014 World Cup Final, which generated 618,725 tweets every 60 seconds.

Trending topics

Despite signs of trouble in recent years -- the company has been experiencing stalled user growth as it struggles to compete with newer, fresher social sites and trends -- Twitter's appeal might rest in its ability to quickly connect people from disparate parts of the world.

If you look at the visualization below, you can see how hot topics like a presidential election victory, World Cup title, or boy band breakup can spread throughout the world in minutes.

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    Brian Mastroianni covers science and technology for CBSNews.com