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Ann Curry’s Haiti tweet ranked most powerful of 2010

Twitter announced its list of the Top 10 most powerful tweets of the year on Tuesday, and TODAY show anchor Ann Curry’s 50-character message imploring the Air Force to allow physicians to land in Haiti to administer aid to the injured and dying came in No. 1.

Other top tweets of 2010 announced by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone live on TODAY included one from the president of Russia just saying hello to the world; a disabled triathlete’s plea for help; the announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton, and a parody about BP’s response to the Gulf Oil spill.

“We tried to find a nice cross-section between tweets that really show the power of an information network and tweets that show taste,” Stone told Curry and TODAY co-anchors Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira.

Ann’s No. 1In the wake of the Haiti earthquake last January, the U.S. military took control of Haiti’s airfield. A Doctors Without Borders plane carrying much-needed supplies and medical aid wasn’t given clearance to land — depriving the wounded of help from its team of physicians. Jason Cone, the organization’s communications director, wasn’t able to get in contact with Pentagon officials to let them know the problem — so he tweeted about the issue. Curry saw the tweet and in turn, tweeted the request asking the military to let the plane land.

“@usairforce find a way to let Doctors without Borders planes land in Haiti: THE most effective at this,” Curry tweeted.

“When I came back and saw [Cone's] tweet that Doctors Without Borders couldn’t land their plane, I said, ‘Wait a minute.’ The idea that they could not land was just unacceptable, in my view, in terms of saving lives,” Curry explained during a Social Media Week panel in New York City in February.

A follower passed along the official handle of the U.S. Air Force via Twitter. Curry, along with several followers who retweeted her message to @USAForce, was able to convince military leaders to allow Doctors Without Borders in an hour later.

“It was amazing to see how many good Samaritans then retweeted this information to make sure @USAirForce heard it,” Curry recalled. “What a feeling when the charity’s planes were allowed to land.”“One tweet can get retweeted so many times that Ann was basically able to wave in that Doctors Without Borders plane,” Stone agreed Tuesday on TODAY.

At the Social Media Week event, Curry added that the experience made her redefine her role as a journalist — the dilemma being whether or not she should get involved. But ultimately, she decided she needed to help any way she could.

“The bottom line is that Twitter helped save lives,” said Curry, whose Twitter stream has more than a million followers. “Isn’t that incredible?”

The Haiti earthquake was No. 4 among Twitter trends in 2010.

Coming in after Curry's tweet, the Top 10 tweets of 2010 were:

2. Welcome to the club
When Russia’s president joined Twitter, he simply declared, “Hello everyone! I’m on Twitter, and this is my first tweet.” The White House immediately reached out to welcome him to the Twitterverse. “Red phones no longer required,” President Obama tweeted.

3. Send help!
A gravely injured triathlete who crashed her bicycle in a wooded area of Connecticut that had no cell phone reception tweeted her way to rescue, probably saving her own life. “I’ve had a serious injury and NEED Help! Can someone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I’m stuck bike crash in woods.”

4. Whoopsie daisy
After the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 and causing one of the largest oil spills in history, it was a parody account, not BP’s official Twitter account, that defined the discussion. “Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy,” the tweet said. “Gulf Oil Spill” was the No. 1 trend on Twitter in 2010.

5. Countrymen, we have a problemIn late September, civil unrest in Ecuador increased dramatically after a new law cut benefits for public servants. President Rafael Correa accused opposition and military forces of a coup attempt and tweeted “Gobierno declara estado de Excepción” — “Government has declared a state of emergency.”Leaders across Latin America and the world tweeted in response to show their support for the people of Ecuador.

6. Making it officialIn a royal first, Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’ private office, created a Twitter account to announce Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton. “The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton,” the simple tweet announced. “I was in London when they did that, and it just blew up,” Biz Stone recalled Tuesday on TODAY.

7. The closing bellWhen the CEO of one of the most high-profile technology companies in the world announced he was stepping down, he kept his resignation letter to 140 characters. Jonathan Schwartz left Sun Microsystems with this simple message: “Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more.”

8. Hey, we tried Twitter was a powerful campaign tool during the 2010 U.S. midterm elections, and election night results often broke first on Twitter. Demonstrating how quickly the world of political communications is changing, Idaho incumbent Walt Minnick’s campaign manager issued a concession tweet.Congratulations to Raul Labrador on a hard-earned win, and best of luck as Idaho’s next Congressman.”

9. Gola! Gola!The FIFA World Cup final represented the largest period of sustained activity for an event in Twitter’s history: During the final game, people from 172 countries tweeted in 27 different languages. Twitter put fans in direct touch with teams, players and commentators.

10. Half-a--ed, but funny
After his departure from “The Tonight Show,” Conan O’Brien used Twitter to announce that he was hitting the road for a two-month-long comedy tour called “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television.” Fans jumped at the chance to see Conan live: Shows were almost sold out in a matter of hours. “Hey Internet: I’m headed to your town on a half-a--ed comedy & music tour. Go to http://TeamCoco.com for tix. I repeat: It’s half-a--ed.”

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