Ten years ago, a young entrepreneur named Jack Dorsey changed Internet history with five words: “just setting up my twttr.” It was the first of billions of tweets that have been posted on Twitter ranging from the mundane to the momentous.
Dorsey’s tweet has racked up an impressive 103,000 retweets since it was posted, but that figure pales in comparison to the most popular posts on the platform. Here we look back at the 10 most retweeted-tweets of all time, according to the retweet-tracking website Favstar. (Twitter declined to provide an official list.)
The list outlines the many ways Twitter is often used—as a place for political proclamations, celebrity musings and, of course, selfies.
10. Andrew Malcolm
A lot of tweets that go viral claim that amassing retweets will cause some actual good in the real world. So it was with this tweet, which said the dog food company Pedigree would provide a meal to a canine for each retweet.
Pedigree did indeed have a #tweetforbowls campaign last year, but the company said it reached its goal of donating 210,000 bowls to dogs in need three days before Andrew Malcolm’s tweet was actually sent. So it’s not clear these RTs actually accomplished anything. Pedigree didn’t respond to an email seeking clarification, but even today Twitter users regularly use this message and image to rack up RT’s.
9. Harry Styles
The One Direction member gave fans an uplifting message the day former member Zayn Malik announced he was leaving the group.
8. Adam Saleh
Popular YouTuber Adam Saleh made waves after posting this video claiming he was removed from a Delta flight after speaking Arabic on board. But it was later revealed that Saleh often makes prank videos and may have sparked the incident to get the footage.
7. Barack Obama
The departing President left office with a series of tweets thanking his supporters for their work over the last eight years, and encouraging them to stay active in the future.
6. Barack Obama (again)
There are a few famous people who use Twitter besides One Direction, including the President of the United States. On the night he was reelected in 2012, Barack Obama’s staff posted this image of the president embracing First Lady Michelle Obama. It became the most retweeted-tweet ever at the time.
5. Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello, a singer and then a part of girl group Fifth Harmony, originally racked up more than a million retweets with this simple message. However, Twitter's now showing just 51,000 RTs on the tweet, though it's unclear why.
4. Denny Januar Ali
A pair of tweets by Indonesian political analyst Denny Januar Ali have racked up a combined 2.5 million retweets. In one, he is backing Indonesian presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. In the other, he is calling for an end to discrimination and pictured with a group of adorable kids in the accompanying photo whose shirts spell out “love.”
The popularity of these tweets is a reminder of Twitter’s global reach. Eighty percent of social network’s users reside outside the United States.
3. Louis Tomlinson
One Direction member Louis Tomlinson embraced his bromance with fellow member Harry Styles in this 2011 tweet. As the band’s stature grew, the tweet kept being recirculated and has now racked up more than two million retweets.
2. Carter Wilkerson
Carter Wilkerson is a man on a mission: A mission for free chicken nuggets. Twitter, occasionally a wonderful place, is trying its best to help.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
It took half of Hollywood to topple One Direction on Twitter. This star-studded selfie from the 2014 Academy Awards includes Bradley Cooper, Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and literally half a dozen other extremely famous people.
Within hours it became the most-retweeted post in Twitter’s history and spawned a Simpsons parody. But the feeling of spontaneous exuberance at the heart of the image’s appeal was sullied when The Wall Street Journal reported the picture was in part product placement for Samsung’s Galaxy phone.