Former President Barack Obama’s tweet this summer in response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., was the most-liked among those on Twitter’s most-retweeted list for 2017. Soon after it was posted in August, it attracted a record 4.5 million likes.
Quoting the South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, Obama wrote on Aug. 12, ” ‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…’ ” and in two follow-ups added, ” ‘People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love…’ ” And then, ” ‘…For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela.’ ”
Accompanying the quote was a photograph of children of various races peering out a window at a smiling Obama.
Obama tweeted the day 32-year-old Heather Heyer was struck by a car and killed while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
President Trump stoked controversy when he avoided naming white nationalists in his own response to those events, instead saying, “We condemn in the strongest most possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”
Trump’s predilection for Twitter is well-known and yet the president was not among the year’s top 10 most-retweeted, despite his 44 million-plus followers and his use of the platform making nearly continual headline news.
Trump was, however, the most-tweeted-about world leader of 2017, followed by India’s Narendra Modi and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.
Despite the record number of likes, Obama’s Mandela tweet earned only around 1.7 million retweets and so is second on the list, eclipsed by a post about fast food. In April, Carter Wilkerson asked Wendy’s asking how many retweets would earn him free chicken nuggets for a year and the company told him 18 million. “Consider it done,” was the 16-year-old’s confident response. The Twittersphere rallied and a screenshot of the exchange accompanied by Wilkerson’s plea for help got more than 3 1/2 million retweets. That made it not only the year’s top retweeted post but also the most retweeted tweet of all time, even if it fell far short of Wendy’s bar. (Wilkerson got the free nuggets — and a whole lot of publicity — anyway.)
Obama had two more of the year’s top 10 retweets. On Jan. 10, days before he stepped down as president, he wrote, “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.” The tweet got nearly 2 million likes and more than 800,000 retweets.
Ten days later when Trump took office, Obama tweeted, “It’s been the honor of my life to serve you. You made me a better leader and a better man,” receiving more than 1.6 million likes and more than 600,000 retweets.
While Trump himself did not make a showing, a tweet from an NBA star insulting him was the seventh-most-retweeted of the year. In September, Trump withdrew a White House invitation to Stephen Curry after the Golden State Warriors star said he didn’t want to go. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers then weighed in, tweeting, “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!”
Pop star Ariana Grande’s message on May 22, the day a terrorist attack on her Manchester concert left nearly two dozen people dead and hundreds injured, drew nearly 3 million likes and more than 1 million retweets.
Grande wrote, “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
Two other top spots went to Penn State IFC and Detroit Lions player Sam Martin asking for retweets in August in exchange for donations made to Houstonians struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
A photograph of singer Chester Bennington tweeted from Linkin Park’s account on July 20, the same day the singer was found dead, got nearly 1.5 million likes and more than 700,000 retweets. It was the sixth-most-retweeted tweet of the year.
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