Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartRadio
The most-liked tweet of 2021 was a note from Joe Biden on the day of his inauguration. The fourth and fifth most-liked tweets are messages from Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, respectively, also celebrating Biden’s inauguration. In second place, sandwiched right in there with 3.2 million likes, is a photo of BTS member Jungkook sitting on a bed and making a kissy face at the camera.
Such is the absolute chokehold that the South Korean band held over global social media in 2021. Twitter has detailed its top tweets, emojis, and hashtags of 2021 in a new blog post, and the running theme is clear: BTS ruled the platform. The members, who tweet from a single group account rather than individual handles, receive multiple millions of likes on almost everything they post. Their selfies are regularly accused of “breaking the internet” and often cause their names to trend worldwide. #BTS, Twitter announced, was the top hashtag of 2021.
The band is also responsible for the most-retweeted tweet of the year, which was a screenshotted statement condemning violence against Asians and Asian Americans. In the tweet, which followed a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes earlier this year, the members recalled their own encounters with racism and discrimination while also noting that “[our] own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks.” The tweet has received 1 million retweets and 2.5 million likes.
Third on the retweet ladder was Billboard’s August 2nd announcement that the group’s single Butter (currently nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category) had spent the longest period of time as number 1 on the Hot 100 chart in 2021, with 1.3 million retweets. (Second place was a tweet from Manchester United welcoming Cristiano Ronaldo to the team.)
Twitter is hardly the only social media platform where BTS is topping lists. Band member V created his own Instagram handle just a few days ago and has reportedly become the fastest user in history to reach 10 million followers. The group also snatched Guinness World Records this year for most retweets on average, most viewed YouTube music video premiere, and fastest TikTok account to reach 1 million followers (among countless others).
One thing is clear from all this: BTS — not just their publicists and social media managers, but the seven members themselves — are an online force of nature. They’ve mastered the internet. And in a year that’s been incredibly painful and frustrating for many Asians and Asian Americans to watch unfold, it’s hard not to see each record-smashing post — whether a fiery political statement or a silly selfie — as a small comfort. This is a group that loudly condemns racism. It’s also a group that sings and tweets and comments in Korean. It’s a group that is Asian on the internet — unapologetic, kissy-faced, rising above it all, victorious. BTS isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we.