Twitter has released its annual list of the most popular tweets on the platform, and in a year when so much coverage of the US president, Donald Trump, has been dominated by his Twitter activity, it is his predecessor Barack Obama who dominates.
Obama’s tweet quoting Nelson Mandela, stating “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion …” had more than 1.7m retweets and was the second most popular tweet of the year. It was tweeted on 13 August after the death of the anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer at Charlottesville.
Barack Obama (@BarackObama)
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
Two other tweets posted by Obama also featured in the top 10 – both posted in January as his term in office came to an end.
President Obama (@POTUS44)
Thank you for everything. My last ask is the same as my first. I’m asking you to believe—not in my ability to create change, but in yours.
President Obama (@POTUS44)
It’s been the honor of my life to serve you. You made me a better leader and a better man.
Also on the top 10 list was the explicitly anti-Trump sentiment of the NBA star LeBron James after the controversy over whether the Golden State Warriors would attend an event at the White House. Trump appeared to rescind the invitation after members of the team stated they were not going to accept it, prompting LeBron to tweet:
LeBron James (@KingJames)
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
Ariana Grande’s reaction to the deaths at her concert in Manchester after the terrorist bombing in May were the fourth most retweeted post of the year. The star’s admission that she was “broken” by events was retweeted more than a million times. Grande returned to the city a few weeks later to lead a huge fundraising concert.
Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande)
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.
Fundraising attempts for victims of flooding in Houston also proved popular, with one appeal for dog food potentially racking up a donation of more than 1,800 US tons of it. The appeal was from Sam Martin, who plays for the NFL’s Detroit Lions.
Leo and I are donating 6 lbs of dog food to Houston for every retweet this gets!!!! RT RT RT RT!! pic.twitter.com/bcTT905knP
The popularity figures are, however, difficult to verify. There has been considerable controversy around the activities of botnets and paid trolls on Twitter, and there is no independent audit of what the platform claims is the most popular.
All of the political and humanitarian tweets, though, were outperformed on the social media platform by one man’s appeal for free chicken nuggets. Eight months after posting the most viral tweet of the year, Carter Wilkerson is still over 14m retweets short of getting his snack.
Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm)
HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS pic.twitter.com/4SrfHmEMo3