9

Saeed Ghasseminejad (advisor to a foreign policy think tank) claimed yesterday:

This tweet by @realDonaldTrump with more than 100k likes is already the most liked Persian tweet in the history of Twitter. A strong show of support by Iranians for Trump's Iran policy, something the MSM does not and will not report.

This claim was immediately re-reported by the Washington Examiner.

Granted the U.S. President has a wide audience especially in America, but there are a lot of Farsi (Persian) speakers.

Did President Donald Trump tweet the most liked Persian language tweet ever?

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    One problem with investigating this would be working out if a “like” is genuine, or by a bot or an employee of the Russian government. – Andrew Grimm Jan 12 at 20:01
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    @AndrewGrimm The origin of the like isn't part of the question. – Gryphon Jan 12 at 20:25
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    @Gryphon I would say that it is. The claim specifically notes that this is "a strong show of support by Iranians". If there is evidence that most of the likes are from US citizens (or Russian bots, or whatever), then only the first part of the claim would be true. But the second part is much more important here (I doubt that the Washington Examiner would have written about it if it were just about an interesting factoid without the political implications). – tim Jan 12 at 21:31
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    @tim, my primary question is about the first part of Ghasseminejad's statement. The second -- I assume -- is far too subjective (what is "strong"?) and would make for a poor skeptics question. – Paul Draper Jan 12 at 22:41
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    Isn't Twitter blocked in Iran? – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 14 at 14:38
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Yes, the claim is currently true, but may or may not have been true at the time of the claim.

[I am going to use the timestamps shown to me by Twitter; these may be regional and differ for you.]

Twitter's advanced search currently shows only five distinct tweets with above 90,000 likes with Farsi as the language:

At January 12th, 9:55am, Saeed Ghasseminejad made his claim.

After that there were more relevant tweets:

  • Mark Hamill quote tweeted Trump's first Farsi tweet. It currently has 279.5K likes.

  • Mark Hamill quote tweeted another of Trump's (English) tweets. It currently has 159.3K likes.

If Trump's tweet only had 100K likes at the time of the claim, then the belly-dancer would still be more popular, but at the time I wrote this answer, Trump's tweet was most popular.

There are some potential sources of error:

  • A deleted tweet (or a Farsi speaker who blocked me on Twitter!) may beat those numbers.
  • Twitter may display different numbers of likes to different people.
  • The Twitter Search feature is not reliable. Tweaking the search to change the minimum number of likes means it sometimes, incorrectly, doesn't show any of these tweets.
  • I can't be sure that there isn't a campaign since the claim to push the belly-dancing tweet up in numbers in an attempt to overtake Trump's tweet.

(The part of Ghasseminejad's claim that this was evidence from a strong show of support by Iranians for Trump's Iran policy is not justified. It is likely a substantial number of the likes were his English-speaking supporters.)

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Two hours after Donald Trump's tweet, actor Mark Hamill responded with another tweet in Farsi which translates to

Please ignore the fact that I created a travel ban for you and threatened to bomb your cultural sites

At the time of posting this, Hamill's tweet had 278K likes - more than Trump's 267K likes. As of January 25, Trump’s tweet has 369.4K likes, more than Hamill’s 279.7K likes.

You can search for most popular tweets in Farsi, until 14 January, 2014.

Note that Twitter has been banned in Iran since 2009 (NY Times). And though many Iranians are able to circumvent this ban (whether by using a VPN, or by living abroad), this fact does make any statements such as, "A strong show of support by Iranians for Trump's Iran policy, something the MSM does not and will not report" highly dubious.

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    The most popular tweets URL is giving me a "Something went wrong" error from Twitter. Is it working for other people? – Oddthinking Jan 14 at 19:35
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    The timeline is 1) Trump tweeted, 2) received 100K likes, 3) Ghasseminejad tweeted his claim, 4) Hamill tweeted, 5) at some point Hamill's likes overtook Trump's. It is unfair on Ghasseminejad to cite a counter-example that happened AFTER his claim. – Oddthinking Jan 14 at 19:39
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    @Oddthinking That speaks to whether or not this is actually a notable claim if such things are in flux so much, don't you think? And, for what it's worth, that particular tweet has received a massive amount of likes in the last hour, showing some clear signs of manipulation. – Michael W. Jan 14 at 20:53
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    @Juhasz, every claim is framed to the time it was made. If I claim, "The U.S. is the only country to have ever landed a man on the moon", that claim is correct (barring conspiracy theories). If China lands a man there in 2040, that doesn't make me retroactively wrong. – Paul Draper Jan 14 at 22:04
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    @Acccumulation, it absolutely depends when it was said. Otherwise, you couldn't conclusively rate claims as "true" or "false." Many would be an open-ended possibilities until the heat death of the universe. – Paul Draper Jan 15 at 0:27

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