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28th Apr 2017

The truth behind what really happened on the day Ed Balls tweeted ‘Ed Balls’

As the nation celebrates Ed Balls Day, we look a little deeper at what really happened

Ciara Knight

Happy Ed Balls Day!

The world was a purer and more wholesome place in April 2011. A place where one man innocently tweeting his own name was enough to go viral.

But how did it come about? What were the events that led up to this iconic piece of social media?

Luckily, I’ve nothing better to do, so let’s find out.

What was the day itself like?

The 28th of April is an important day. It’s Bradley Wiggins, Saddam Hussein and Jessica Alba’s birthday; it’s two days away from the official beginning of summer and it’s also the anniversary of the Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure being signed.

With that in mind, it’s likely that Ed was in high spirits. The weather is typically nice around this time of year, with occasional showers. His mood was likely to be quite good. He would’ve turned 44 just two months previously and was probably settling into life in his mid forties.

Easter fell four days previous to April 28th in 2011, so perhaps Ed was still working his way through some Easter eggs, the cheeky scamp. Maybe there was a packet of Mini Eggs hiding in the back of the fridge and he’d just clocked them. Who are we to speculate?

The reality is this: we need to take into account the time of year the Ed Balls was tweeting. Based on the above intelligence, it’s reasonable to assume that he was in good spirits, maybe in a giddy mood. Was the tweet intentional? Is Ed Balls thirsty for viral internet fame? We need to dig deeper.

What kind of place was the world in 2011?

Let’s cast our minds back six years ago. The Social Network and The King’s Speech were in cinemas, CERN announced their discovery of neutrinos breaking the speed of light, Fidel Castro resigned from the Communist Party of Cuba’s central committee after 45 years, Christina Aguilera got divorced and Osama Bin Laden was killed.

It was an eventful year, the world population reached seven billion inhabitants. Seven. Billion. How does an MP stand out among that many people? Being a good person and doing your best simply isn’t good enough when there’s that many of us around. You need to be bold, stand out from the pack, be unique.

Most importantly, the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton took place in 2011. On what date? It was the 29th of April. A day after Ed Balls tweeted. The international spotlight was on Britain in the lead-up to what was deemed as the wedding of the century. It would be an awful shame if someone decided to… steal… that spotlight.

Ed Balls took to twitter. He picked up his phone, he typed his own name and he pressed send.

What was Ed Tweeting in the days leading up to this event?

I went on a deep dive through Ed Balls’ Twitter activity around the time of 28th April 2011 and I’m glad I did.

Here’s what Ed was tweeting the day before #EdBalls happened:

Look at those measly numbers. Ten retweets and one favourite. It’s likely the numbers are poor in protest of his manual retweeting, or the fact that his followers didn’t particularly give a shit.

Put yourself in Ed’s shoes for a minute. He’s shared his feelings, they were picked up by the BBC and he’s merely relaying them to his adoring followers. The best they can offer up is 10 retweets and ONE favourite. One favourite is so pathetic it’s not unreasonable to assume that it was accidental.

Ed’s confidence was likely shot. Was he losing touch with his fans? Had George Osborne suddenly become popular? Was the BBC using his quote to set the wolves upon him? The man was surely in tatters.

Another interaction the day before #EdBalls happened. Ed was being trolled by a Twitter user that has since removed ‘xxx’ from her username to add ‘NYC’.

We can learn three important things from this interaction:

  1. Ed Balls searches his own name on Twitter
  2. Ed Balls spent Easter in the Lake District
  3. Ed Balls tans very easily or is a liar

Because I’m determined to get to the bottom of this and I’ve little else to do, I checked the average temperature in the Lake District around this time of year. Here’s today’s forecast:

As you can see, the maximum temperature for today, 28th April, is eight degrees celsius. Not quite tanning weather, IMO.

I went deeper. Would the records for the temperature in the Lake District during Easter 2011 dispute this?

As we can see, the temperatures reached 24 degrees over the Easter weekend in 2011. Ed Balls was telling the truth. It was a tan. Suck on that, Sarah.

What did he tweet after ‘Ed Balls’?

The day after Ed Balls tweeted ‘Ed Balls’, he tweeted the following:

That’s right, as I mentioned earlier, the Royal Wedding took place the day after that tweet slipped through Ed’s fingertips in 2011.

Ed Balls was having a garden party, probably to top up his recent tan from his Easter weekend in The Lake District. He was again in good spirits. People only use ‘…’ in tweets if they’re in a heightened state of emotion, and in this instance, it appears to be excitement.

After giving his review of the married Royals’ first kiss as man and wife, Ed lets us into his world. He paints a beautiful picture of a man that has it all together, a man that wouldn’t tweet his own name for the sake of almost 90k retweets six years later. Is this a ruse? Is he throwing us off the scent?

Why didn’t Ed address the tweet that he sent 22 hours previously? Or delete it? This suggests that it wasn’t an accident. It was intentional.

What time was the tweet sent at?

Oh. Disregard all of the above. Case closed.