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Ed Balls is a British politician who accidentally posted a tweet of his own name in April of 2011, leading many Twitter users to mockingly retweet the message thousands of times. In April 2013, in anticipation of the two-year anniversary of the tweet, hundreds of Twitter users participated in a spam campaign to flood the microblogging service with his name.
On April 28th, 2011, Ed Balls accidentally tweeted a blank message containing only his own name. Within two years, the tweet received over 10,800 retweets and 4,300 favorites.
Ed Balls— Ed Balls (@edballsmp) April 28, 2011
For the remainder of 2011 and 2012, the tweet remained intact on Balls’ Twitter profile and became mocked by many British users on the site. On February 5th, 2013, Storify user Moose Allain uploaded a compilation of tweets describing how to pronounce “Ed Balls.” On April 8th, a Facebook event page was created for the second anniversary of Ed Balls’ tweet, which received over 900 RSVPs in the following week. On April 10th, journalist Andy Kelly tweeted a joke about Ed Balls punning his own name at the funeral for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Within five days, the tweet gained more than 55 retweets and 40 favorites.
Ed Balls steps up to the podium at Thatcher’s funeral, unfolds a piece of paper, and clears his throat “Ed Balls.”— Andy Kelly (@ultrabrilliant) April 10, 2013
On April 11th, blogger Rebecca Baker published an article about the upcoming two-year anniversary for the tweet. The following day, Balls retweeted a photograph of a train sign with his name written on it. Also on April 12th, the tech news blog Digital Spy published a post about Balls’ recognition of the meme.
On April 13th, Urban Dictionary user mosmi submitted an entry for “Ed Balls,” defining it as a meme inspired by the tweet from April 2011. On April 15th, the viral content site BuzzFeed featured a compilation of notable examples of the meme and The Mirror published an article about the upcoming anniversary of the tweet, reporting that many Twitter users planned to retweet Ed Balls’ name on April 28th.
Leading up to the tweet’s two-year anniversary, many Twitter users posted edited photos and image macros referencing the meme.
An Ed Balls bookmarklet tool allows users to change the text on an entire webpage to the name “Ed Balls” (shown below).