Ten years ago Monday, 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 69,000 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
— Andrew Malcolm (@AHMalcolm) February 15, 2015
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. Zayn Malik
I'm 22 years old... I love a girl named Perrie Edwards. And there's a lot of jealous fucks in this world I'm sorry for what it looks like x
— zayn (@zaynmalik) March 18, 2015
A week before he left the boy band sensation One Direction, Zayn Malik fired this tweet at his real or imagined haters. In case you didn’t know, Perrie Edwards is a member of Little Mix, a teen group that, like One Direction, was formed by competitors on British singing show The X Factor.
8. Harry Styles
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22.
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) February 1, 2016
It’s the most famous dude from One Direction quoting a famous Taylor Swift lyric on his actual 22nd birthday. A message you would roll your eyes at if a friend posted it enters the rarified air of all-time most popular tweets.
7. Niall Horan
applied for xfactor,hope it all wrks out
— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) January 17, 2010
Before One Direction was dominating Twitter, they were a bunch of teens who independently applied to compete on British singing show The X Factor. Member Niall Horan’s tweet hoping he lands a spot on the show has become legendary.
6. Barack Obama
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. Harry Styles
All the love as always. H
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) March 26, 2015
Boy Band Twitter was devastated last March when One Directioner Zayn Malik announced he was leaving the group. But member Harry Styles helped to soothe nerves with his catchphrase “all the love,” which he often uses to sign off tweets.
3-4. Denny Januar Ali
Denny JA: Dengan RT ini, anda ikut memenangkan Jokowi-JK. Pilih pemimpin yg bisa dipercaya (Jokowi) dan pengalaman (JK). #DJoJK
— Denny JA (@DennyJA_WORLD) June 4, 2014
— Denny JA (@DennyJA_WORLD) April 22, 2015
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.
2. Louis Tomlinson
Always in my heart @Harry_Styles . Yours sincerely, Louis
— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) October 2, 2011
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.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
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.