In January, a pair of anti-piracy bills united the Internet in outrage. The proposed legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, would have restricted access to sites associated with pirated content, including the search engines and ad networks that do business with them.
The Internet cried censorship, and on January 18 some of the most popular sites blacked out their pages in protest. Reddit, Craigslist, Boing Boing, The Oatmeal, the English-language version of Wikipedia and thousands of other sites went dark. Even Google put a black censorship box over its logo. There were also petitions and organized boycotts of companies who supported the bills.
The protests worked, as both SOPA and PIPA were shelved. It was an impressive demonstration of the power of an organized Internet community.
Violence and war have long been documented on Twitter and other social networks -- typically by journalists and by regular people on the ground (notably the Pakistani witness to the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden).
But in November, the Israeli military took this concept to a new level. During its conflict with Palestinian forces in Gaza, the Israel Defense Force tweeted updates, including the news it had "eliminated" Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari. The military arm of Hamas responded on Twitter with its own provocations.
The back-and-forth between the warring sides signaled a jarring evolution in how war is broadcast in real time.
iPhone 5 and Apple Maps stumble
Every Apple hardware release is a big news story, starting with rumors months in advance and peaking with a well-oiled Apple press event, followed by usually glowing reviews and huge sales numbers. But in 2012, Apple made a major misstep when it released the iPhone 5 and its new operating system, iOS 6.