First things first: The most-retweeted tweet of 2017 — and for that matter, of all time — was by a teenager who wanted Wendy’s to give him free chicken nuggets.
But this is not another piece about the Chicken Nuggets Boy, so let’s move on to the second-most-retweeted tweet of the year. It’s by a guy who used to be president.
This tweet was posted in the wake of the white-nationalist rally in August in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a 20-year-old with a long history of sympathizing with Nazi views was arrested for allegedly plowing a car into a crowd of anti-racism demonstrators, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others.
Obama’s tweet in response to Charlottesville was retweeted 1.7 million times and has 4.5 million likes. Not long after it was posted, it became the most-liked tweet on Twitter, ever.
In 2017, when the current president regularly steers an entire day’s news cycle by tweeting a bunch of things before dawn, President Trump is, unsurprisingly, at the top of the list of most-talked-about global elected leaders and U.S. politicians. The messages he’s embraced — #MAGA, #TrumpTrain and #BoycottNFL, for instance — are some of the top activism hashtags of the year, according to Twitter.
But @RealDonaldTrump is absent from the 10 most-retweeted tweets of the year and Twitter’s most-liked tweets of 2017. Meanwhile, his predecessor appears a total of five times across both lists.
Obama tweeted three of Twitter’s 10 most retweeted tweets of the year, including two from the official @POTUS account before leaving office (Obama’s Twitter history as president is now archived at @POTUS44):
Other tweets in the top 10 included Ariana Grande’s response after the massacre at her concert in Manchester, Britain, and a couple of tweets raising money to support those recovering from the hurricane in Houston.
One tweet on the most-retweeted list doesn’t mention Trump, but is about him.
Trump and Obama use Twitter very differently: Obama, now under @BarackObama, has nearly 100 million followers and he doesn’t tweet very much. His tweets about Charlottesville and John McCain’s cancer diagnosis were both well-timed, supportive messages during major news events.
Trump, meanwhile, has 44 million followers and tweets all the time about everything. He’s had an enormous impact on Twitter this year, but not because of any one tweet above all the rest.
People talk about Trump, obviously. Replying to his tweets has become performative for both his supporters and the #Resist crowd. However, it’s hard for any one of his tweets to capture attention in the way Obama’s most popular tweets have. If you’re talking about a Trump tweet, chances are there will be another one to talk about in about five minutes.
In case you’re curious, here are the full lists referred to in this piece.
Most-Retweeted Tweets of 2017
Most-Liked Tweets of 2017:
Most-Tweeted-About Elected World Leaders (Global):
Top Tweeted U.S. Elected Officials:
Most-Tweeted Activism Hashtags in the United States: