On Friday evening, Aug. 29, 2020, the people of Twitter received the devastating news of Chadwick Boseman’s death at the too-young age of 43.
The news came in the form of a photo and a statement posted to the Black Panther star’s official Twitter account. We learned that he’d been secretly contending with colon cancer for four years, and that he’d been juggling some of the best work of his life alongside ongoing treatment. Obviously, the tweet blew up.
It blew up so big, in fact, that Twitter confirmed it as the “most liked tweet ever” on Saturday. “A tribute fit for a king,” the tweet read, in a nod to Boseman’s role as the Wakandan king T’Challa in Panther, before driving the point home with a #WakandaForever hashtag.
(And to be clear for social media neophytes, clicking “Like” doesn’t necessarily mean you like the news.)
The previous “most Liked” tweet on Twitter, with more than 4.3 million Likes, is this one from Barack Obama:
At the moment I’m writing this sentence, Boseman’s tweet has 5,545,663 Likes. For comparison, the number was roughly 5,533,000 when I first started writing all of this down a few minutes ago. And in the time since I started this paragraph, that total has jumped up by almost 3,000 Likes.
Twitter had no further comment or metrics to share relating to the tweet when Mashable reached out for more information. Though Black Panther notably became the most tweeted about movie ever in 2018, and we’re told Twitter reactivated the old #BlackPanther emoji as fans of the movie have started working to organize watch parties.
The anguish that followed news of Boseman’s death has been palpable on social media since word first emerged on Friday night. He was a gifted performer, but also a good person. Black Panther catapulted Boseman into a stratosphere of celebrity that few get to see, and one of the most wonderful things about him was how he used that platform to spread good in the world and, more specifically, uplift Black people everywhere.
We hate the news but we Like the tweet. In doing so, we acknowledge the passing of a true king. Now at 5,574,453 and counting.