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Barack Obama Breaks Twitter Record With Tweet in Wake of Charlottesville Violence

Former President Barack Obama has set the record for the most-liked tweet in Twitter’s history, with his post quoting Nelson Mandela in response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Obama’s Aug. 12 tweet was posted after a rally of white nationalists and neo-Nazis resulted in the murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was struck by a car that smashed into a crowd of anti-hate protesters. The post set the record at about 7:07 p.m. PT Tuesday, when it topped 2.7 million likes, according to Twitter.

Obama quoted Mandela, the South African political and anti-apartheid resistance leader, in a series of three tweets: “No one is born hating another person because of the color 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 of Obama’s Aug. 12 tweets surpassed the previous record-holder for most-liked Twitter post, which was Ariana Grande’s distraught message following the Manchester terrorist attack in May after she performed a concert. That has 2.7 million likes.

The third most-liked tweet of all-time currently is Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars selfie from the 2014 Academy Awards, with 2.4 million likes. (For what it’s worth, note that in November 2015 Twitter switched the star-icon “favorite” to the “like,” denoted with a heart.)

Obama maintains one of the most-followed Twitter accounts (@BarackObama), with 93.3 million followers. Donald Trump, the 45th president of the U.S., has 35.9 million followers for his primary @realDonaldTrump account.

President Trump, in a bizarre and bellicose press conference at Trump Tower earlier Tuesday, defended the white-supremacist marchers in Charlottesville. He reiterated his opinion that “both sides” were to blame for the resulting violence. In addition the Heyer’s slaying, the unrest led to the deaths of two Virginia State Police troopers — Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who died in a helicopter crash — and left dozens injured.

Obama’s first Mandela tweet, accompanied by a photo of him peering at a group of children through a window, also became the fourth most-retweeted post ever with more than 1.16 million retweets, according to Twitter. No. 1 is from the Nevada teen who was trying to get 18 million retweets for a free year of chicken nuggets from Wendy’s (at 3.7 million); second is the DeGeneres selfie (3.4 million), followed by One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson 2011 tweet at Harry Styles (2.57 million).

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