Sunday 19 January 2020

Barack Obama’s Charlottesville response is now the most-liked tweet ever

The former US president quoted Nelson Mandela in a series of tweets, the first of which amassed more than three million likes.

(Anthony Devlin/PA)
(Anthony Devlin/PA)

By Nilima Marshall

A post by Barack Obama responding to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville has become the most-liked tweet in history.

Just days after the former US president condemned the tragic events in Virginia with a powerful Nelson Mandela quote, his tweet has gained more than three million likes to set a new record, according to Twitter tracking site Favstar.

Obama’s series of three tweets reads: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

The first tweet amassed over 1.2 million retweets, while Obama’s follow-up second and third posts garnered more than 300,000 retweets each.

White nationalists in Charlottesville (Steve Helber/AP)

A car driven by a right-wing extremist ploughed through a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville on Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a paralegal and activist.

Obama’s tweet came shortly after Donald Trump’s press conference in which the current US President failed to explicitly denounce white supremacists, instead saying: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

Trump’s response was criticised by many in the US and around the world, and two follow-up tweets expressing condolences to friends and families of those who were injured and died in the violent clashes prompted much less social interaction on Twitter than Obama’s – with just over 20,000 retweets and 100,000 likes each.

Trump did denounce “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups” a day later but appeared to revert to his previous position during a turbulent press conference at his Manhattan residence on Tuesday when he said there were “some very bad people” among the protesters, adding: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

On Wednesday, Obama’s post surpassed Ariana Grande’s tweet on May 22 following the Manchester terror attack, which read: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words”, and attracted 2.71 million likes.

Obama’s tweet is also the fifth most retweeted post on the social media site, trailing behind singer Louis Tomlinson, Indonesian author Denny JA and US television host Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie.

The most retweeted tweet of all time remains an American teenager’s attempt to get free chicken nuggets from fast food chain Wendy’s.

PA Media

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