By TIME Staff
March 5, 2015

If we’ve learned anything from the Dress That Broke the Internet, first posted to Tumblr by a 21-year-old singer from Scotland, it’s that anyone with a web connection can start a global conversation. Yes, it helps to be famous in real life. But the rise of social networks has leveled the playing field, allowing unknowns to command audiences rivaling those of real-world leaders, even if by accident. Who rises above the rest? To determine the unranked list, we analyzed social-media followings, site traffic, overall ability to drive news, and more.

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