Donald Trump on social media

Text: "My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!"
A 2017 tweet on Donald Trump's verified Twitter account[1]

The presence of Donald Trump on social media has attracted attention worldwide since he joined Twitter in March 2009. Trump has frequently used Twitter and other social media to comment on politicians and celebrities, and he relied on Twitter significantly to communicate during the 2016 United States presidential election. The attention on Trump's Twitter activity has significantly increased since he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and continued to post controversial opinions and statements. Many of the assertions made by Trump on his Twitter account have been proven to be false.[2][3][4][5]

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during his tenure that Trump's tweets are "considered official statements by the President of the United States".[6] According to a June 2017 Fox News poll, 70 percent of respondents said Trump's tweets were hurting his agenda and 17 percent said the tweets were helpful.[7][8]

Background

Trump was described as "possibly the first 'social media' and 'reality TV' president" in an article by Van Jones on CNN's website in October 2015. Past presidents have also made a significant impact by means of communicating their message through new media channels – for example, Franklin D. Roosevelt used radio, John F. Kennedy used television and Barack Obama used the internet.[9]

Social media was an important part of Trump's presidential election campaign in 2016, and was one of the reasons he was ultimately elected.[10] In 2016, his Twitter following exceeded that of his Republican rivals and approached that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.[11]

Trump claimed before his inauguration that he would scale back his usage of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. He also stated that social media made it possible to win the elections with less money spent.[12] Nevertheless, by May 2017, he had a social media audience of over 45 million Americans.[13] This has allowed Trump to "sideline mainstream media" and dramatically shift the way the president communicates with the public.[13]

Twitter

Donald Trump's tweet activity from his first tweet in May 2009 to September 2017. His tweet activity pattern has changed from 2013.

In 2009, marketing staffer Peter Costanzo suggested to Donald Trump that social media could be used to draw attention to his then-current book, Think Like a Champion.[14] Convinced by Costanzo, Trump joined Twitter in March 2009.[15] The username @DonaldTrump was already being used by a parody account, so Trump's username, @realDonaldTrump, was selected to distinguish between them.[14] The first tweet was sent on May 4, 2009, advertising his upcoming appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.[14]

Trump did not write many of the early tweets sent under his account. Initially, messages were drafted by Costanzo, with Trump providing his approval before they were sent.[16] For the first two years, tweets actually written by Trump included the phrase "from Donald Trump" to distinguish them from those written by his staff, but by about June 2011, as Trump's use of the platform increased, those identifying labels disappeared.[14] By the 2016 campaign, researchers observed that some tweets—often those with the most critical opinions—were being submitted from an Android phone, while others were sent to Twitter from an iPhone.[17][18] This suggested that members of Trump's staff were still responsible for some of the messages sent under his account, a suspicion that was largely confirmed using sentiment analysis.[19] As president, Trump stopped use of his Android due to security concerns; however, machine learning and natural language processing could still frequently distinguish Trump's actual tweets from those sent in his name, even when staffers attempted to emulate his writing style.[20]

A Fox News compilation of Trump's spelling and grammar errors on Twitter included the typo "covfefe" as well as his 2016 misspelling of unprecedented as "unpresidented",[21] which The Guardian named "word of the year" in tongue-in-cheek fashion.[22][23]

Upon Trump's inauguration, he gained control of the official U.S. Presidential Twitter account (@POTUS), which had been created by Barack Obama. Trump's first tweets as president were made from his personal account, but he has made use of both accounts.[24]

Insults

A January 2016 review found that one in every eight Trump Twitter posts "was a personal insult of some kind".[25] As of November 2017, Trump had insulted 394 people, places, and things on Twitter, ranging from politicians to journalists and news outlets to entire countries.[26] Occasionally, Trump has targeted private citizens in this manner. A 2015 Trump tweet against an 18-year-old college student who had challenged him at a New Hampshire political forum led to a wave of online harassment against her.[27] In December 2016, then-president-elect Trump responded to criticism from the president of United Steelworkers Local 1999 in Indiana by tweeting that the local union leader "has done a terrible job representing workers";[28] the union president received threatening phone calls afterward. Reached for comment, he suggested Trump "needs to worry about getting his Cabinet filled, and leave me the hell alone".[29]

Several catchphrases used by Trump on Twitter have become well-known, particularly his frequent use of "Sad!"[30] He typically gives opponents nicknames such as "Lyin' Ted", "Little Marco" and "Crooked Hillary",[31][32] and describes reports critical of him as "fake news".[33][34][35]

Follower counts

Prior to the election, 8 percent of his 7.58 million followers were suspected bots.[36][37] In January 2017, Trump had 20 million followers, and an audit by a journalist showed that 32 percent were fake. In May 2017, his followers had jumped to 30 million followers, but only about half are legitimate accounts. In November 2017, Trump had 42.4 million followers, making him Twitter's 21st most popular account; according to TwitterAudit, only 47% of them are real.[38] By comparison, an analysis shows that 21 percent of Barack Obama's 89 million Twitter followers were bots.[36]

However, a Twitter spokesman denied the claim that there are that many fake accounts on the service.[37]

Sharing of far-right and extremist content

A picture shared by Trump on Twitter on November 22, 2015, claiming that 81% of white murder victims were killed by black people. Although widely circulated on social media portals such as Facebook and Twitter, there is no "Crime Statistics Bureau, San Francisco" and an investigation by left-leaning Politifact found that the numbers claimed were "wildly inaccurate".[39] Interviewed about the claim, Trump replied: "Am I gonna check every statistic?…It came from sources that are very credible, what can I tell you."[40][41]
An image shared by Trump reminding everyone of Clinton taking bribes was instantly labeled anti-Semitic as research by PolicyMic found that the image apparently originated from a creator of anti-Semitic memes; the star of David (right) is a symbol of Judaism, insinuating that Clinton was controlled by Jewish people.[42] Like most Americans, Trump's social media director Dan Scavino confirmed that the star was simply a sheriff's badge.[42]

Trump "has a history of retweeting other controversial supporters, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis."[43] Trump has often been accused of retweeting or copying material from social media accounts posting anti-semitic, racist or false information, such as claims exaggerating the number of crimes committed by black people.[44][45][46]

During campaign

Politifact singled out an image retweeted by Trump that claimed that 81% of white murder victims are killed by black people as particularly obviously false, noting that besides being a five-fold exaggeration the claim was sourced to the non-existent "Crime Statistics Bureau, San Francisco"; it later highlighted it when deciding to award its 2015 "Lie of the Year" badge to Trump's entire presidential campaign.[39][47] The fake statistics were first posted by a neo-Nazi Twitter account.[46]

An image posted by Trump on July 2, 2016 called Hillary Clinton the "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!" and featured a six-pointed star reminiscent of the Jewish Star of David; the image first appeared in a June 15 tweet by "@FishBoneHead1," a Twitter account described by the Associated Press as being known for "anti-Clinton and right-leaning messages and images" and by Mic as promoting "violent, racist memes," before making its way to 8chan's pol on June 22.[42][48] Trump's social media manager Dan Scavino responded that the image had been sourced by him from a Twitter page "where countless images appear" and that he had assumed that the star referred to a sheriff's badge.[42][48][49] Under two hours later, the tweet was deleted from Trump's account in favor of a nearly identical tweet with a circle in place of the star, but Trump later blamed the deletion on his staff, stating: "I would've rather defended it. Just leave it up, and say, 'No, that's not a Star of David. That's just a star.'" In a follow-up tweet, Trump asked if a six-pointed star appearing in a Frozen coloring book was also the Star of David.[48][50] Jeremy Diamond of CNN observed: "It wasn't the six-pointed star alone that evoked anti-Semitism—it's the combination of the star with a background of money and an accusation of corruption, which suggests stereotypical views of Jews and money and raises conspiracy theories that Jews control political systems."[51] The episode led Dana Schwartz, a Jewish employee of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, to write an open letter to him in protest, to which he responded.[52][53]

Britain First videos

President Donald Trump with Theresa May in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., 27 January 2017. The May Ministry condemned Trump's Tweets and Britain First.

On November 29, 2017, Trump re-tweeted three inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos from the British far-right and ultranationalist group Britain First, which has a history of sharing misleading videos.[43] One of the videos (titled "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!") purports to show an assault by a Muslim immigrant. But according to the Dutch government, the teenaged perpetrator was in fact "born and raised in the Netherlands", with a police spokesman saying "he is not a Muslim or a migrant." The video was first re-shared by American conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who Trump follows on Twitter.[54][55] Another video ("Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!") was filmed during the Syrian Civil War in 2013 and shows a man, who is believed to be an Al-Nusra supporter, destroying a statue of Mary and stating: "No-one but Allah will be worshipped in the land of the Levant." The third video ("Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!") contains footage from Alexandria, Egypt, during a period of violent unrest following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état.[56][57][58] The videos had been shared by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, who was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment in Britain in 2016.[43] Trump's promoting inflammatory content from an extremist group was without precedent among modern American presidents.[59]

Trump's actions were widely condemned both in the U.S. and abroad by politicians, commentators and religious leaders of various faiths and across the political spectrum; also by several civil rights and advocacy groups and organizations.[60][61][62][63][43][64] The incident resulted in calls for Trump to be banned from the UK,[61] [65][66] but his invitation to visit to the United Kingdom was not withdrawn.[67] When asked by PBS NewsHour, twenty-nine Democratic and four Republican senators criticized the tweets.[68][69] Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May said in a statement, "it is wrong for the president to have done this" and "Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions."[70][69]

Trump's sharing of the tweets was praised across far-right circles by "islamophobes, white supremacists and other extremists". It increased Islamophobic comment on social media and elevated the profile of Britain First, considered a tiny fringe group.[71][72] In Britain, It was hailed by Fransen herself and by Britain First's leader Paul Golding, who said “Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers! God Bless You Trump!" and signed off with the abbreviation OCS (Onward Christian Soldiers).[73][61][58][74][75]

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's tweets, saying "Whether it's a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about."[67] On 30 November 2017, Sanders said that Trump's actions "elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat, that’s extreme violence and extreme terrorism."[76] Trump responded to criticism from May by publicly rebuking her on Twitter, sparking a rare rift between the United Kingdom and the United States.[77] On December 18, almost three weeks after being retweeted by Trump, the accounts of Britain First, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were all suspended by Twitter.[78]

Other controversial tweets

Trump Tower wiretapping allegations

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

President Donald Trump (in the first of four tweets that claimed that former President Barack Obama tapped the phones in Trump Tower), Twitter[lower-alpha 1]

In a succession of tweets on March 4, 2017,[79][lower-alpha 1] President Trump stated he had "just found out" that former president Obama had wiretapped the phones in his offices at Trump Tower during the last months of the 2016 election. The tweets resulted in a week of media attention given to the allegations, despite scarce evidence. Fake news websites did also take up the allegations, and one even claimed that a warrant for Barack Obama's arrest had been given.[79][80] He did not say where he had obtained the information and offered no evidence to support it.[81] Trump compared the alleged intrusion to McCarthyism and Watergate. Anonymous White House officials told The Washington Post that Trump did not appear to coordinate his comments with other White House officials.[80]

During April and May there was no further evidence forthcoming on the claims. When questioned about the issue in an interview on April 30, Trump was evasive when asked about his relationship with former president Obama. He said 'I don't stand by anything' and he thought 'our side has been proven very strongly, and everybody's talking about it'.[82]

In September, CNN reported that the FBI wiretapped Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, in 2016-17, either during or after his tenure with the Trump campaign. This does not confirm the accuracy of Trump's tweets, as it is not known whether any surveillance of Manafort took place at Trump Tower and there is no evidence that Obama requested the wiretap, which was authorized by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant.[83][84][85][86]

Russian influence investigation

Trump has repeatedly attacked former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump dismissed from office, via Twitter.[87] Trump has posted a number of angry tweets directed at Robert Mueller, who was appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.[88][89] Trump has referred to the inquiry as "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" on Twitter.[90]

"Covfefe"

The cryptic tweet sent by Trump[lower-alpha 2]
The COVFEFE Act

On May 31, 2017, Trump sent out a tweet that read, in its entirety, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe". It immediately went viral, becoming an Internet meme and a source of widespread jokes.[91][92] The tweet was liked and retweeted over a hundred thousand times, making it one of the most popular tweets of 2017 to that date, as people speculated on the meaning of "covfefe".[93] About five hours later, Trump deleted the tweet and sent out an alternative one, asking people what they thought "covfefe" could mean.[93] It was later determined by The Independent that "covfefe" most likely meant "coverage".[94]

Off camera, at a press briefing later the same day, Sean Spicer responded to questions about the tweet with the statement "the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant". No further explanation was given during the briefing.[95] Some reporters, observing that Spicer did not appear to be joking, were concerned by the implications. Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, writing for the National Review, considered it unlikely that "covfefe" is "some esoteric code word", suggesting instead, "Spicer feels compelled to protect the myth of Trumpian infallibility at all costs".[96] The Atlantic's Megan Garber felt that Spicer's response further divided the White House from the public by giving a likely typo "the whiff of conspiracy".[97] At The Washington Post, Callum Borchers instead argued that the deliberately obscure response was an intentional tactic to distract the media and public from the administration's other controversies.[98]

Leonid Bershidsky writing for Bloomberg View compared the phenomenon to Ronald Reagan when the president made a gaffe joking on a live microphone, "We begin bombing in five minutes".[99] Bershidsky compared Reagan's comment to Trump's: "Reagan's infamous 'nuclear joke,' which rocked world leaders, was 136 characters long, just right for a tweet."[99] Compliance Week noted: "In Reagan's case, he immediately admitted the error and squashed it. In Trump's case, he sent a wrong message and then allowed it to sit for hours untended."[100]

Two weeks later, Democratic representative Mike Quigley filed legislation titled the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act, using the term made infamous in Trump's tweet. The bill would amend the Presidential Records Act to cover social media, thus requiring tweets and other social media posts by the U.S. President to be preserved under law.[101]

The state of Georgia prohibited the use of the word "covfefe" on vanity license plates.[102]

Comments on Sadiq Khan

After the June 2017 London attack, newly elected Muslim Mayor of London Sadiq Khan condemned it and said that "the city remains one of the safest in the world" and there was "no reason to be alarmed" over the increased police presence around the city.[103][104] The latter comment was criticized by Trump in a tweet: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'"[105][106]

Trump's comments were misconstrued as a deliberate misrepresentation of Khan's remarks by his spokesman,[107] as well as by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Prime Minister Theresa May said that "Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it is wrong to say anything else".[106] Conservative minister Penny Mordaunt and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also backed Khan. Left-leaning Farron said, "Sadiq Khan has shown calm and dignified resolve in the face of these cowardly terrorist attacks. He is more of a statesman than Donald Trump will ever be."[108] Lewis Lukens, the former US ambassador to the UK, and the United States Conference of Mayors declared their support, with Lukens commending Khan's "strong leadership" in leading London forward after the attack and also praising the "extraordinary response" from the law enforcement community.[109][110] President Trump tweeted the following day that the London Mayor was offering a "pathetic excuse" for his statement, and alleging that the mainstream media were "working hard to sell" Khan's explanation.[106][107][111][112] When asked about these comments following a vigil held near Tower Bridge, Khan stated that he was busy dealing with the aftermath of the attack and declared that he has not "got the time to respond to tweets from Donald Trump".[112]

Trump's sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, defended his comments and claimed that Khan, who worked along with the security services and held a vigil for victims of the attack, was not doing enough to combat terrorism. Trump Jr. stated that Khan should stop attacking his father.[113]

Senator John McCain, known best for his now released 1969 Tokyo Rose-style audio recording where he conspired with the Vietnamese[114], referred to Trump's comments in stating that America is "not showing leadership around the world" and that former-President Barack Obama and his administration had offered better leadership, a comment he later partially retracted by stating that only certain "different aspects" were better during Obama's presidency.[115][116]

2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis

The Qatar diplomatic crisis is an escalation of the Qatar–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, it began when several countries abruptly cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017. These countries included Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, which cited Qatar's alleged support for terrorism as the main reason for their actions.[117] The severing of relations included withdrawing ambassadors, and imposing trade and travel bans. President Donald Trump claimed credit for engineering the diplomatic crisis in a series of tweets.[118] On 6 June, Trump began by tweeting: "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!"[119][118] An hour and a half later, he remarked on Twitter that it was "good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference [sic] was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"[120][121][122] This was in contrast to attempts by The Pentagon and State department to remain neutral. The Pentagon praised Qatar for hosting the Al Udeid Air Base and for its "enduring commitment to regional security." US Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, sent a similar message.[123][124] Earlier, the US Secretary of State had taken a neutral stance and called for dialogue.[125]

Comments on Morning Joe hosts

On June 29, 2017, Trump tweeted "I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came... ...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"[126] The subjects of the tweets were Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who earlier in the day had talked about Trump on their show.[127]

The comments were quickly met with condemnation from both the left and the right. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, stated, "Obviously, I don't see that as an appropriate comment."[127] Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, stated that the tweet "really saddens me because it is so beneath the dignity of the president of the United States to engage in such behavior".[128] Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins tweeted "This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov't and media. We don't have to get along, but we must show respect and civility."[128] Rebukes also came from Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford, New York Democrat Representative Nita Lowey, and Kansas Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins.[128]

MSNBC stated, "It's a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job."[129] Aaron Blake of the Washington Post wrote an article titled "Trump's very bad tweets about Mika Brzezinski are a microcosm of his struggling presidency."[130]

Seemingly in defense of Trump, Melania Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham released the statement: "As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder."[126] Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated, "Look, I don't think that the president's ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn't push back. There have been an outrageous number of personal attacks, not just to him but to frankly everyone around him. People that have personally attacked me many times. This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites in Hollywood or anywhere else."[131]

On July 1, 2017, Trump tweeted "Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!"[132]

After these tweets, Trump's approval rating decreased from 40% to 37%, according to a Gallup poll.[8] However, the RealClearPolitics average of polls showed his approval rating remained virtually unchanged in the same time period.[133]

Later on in the month, Scarborough announced that he was leaving the Republican party and becoming an Independent.

CNN wrestling video

On July 2, 2017, Trump tweeted a video of himself wrestling Vince McMahon during WrestleMania 23 with the CNN logo over McMahon's face. In response, Brian Stelter of CNN issued a statement saying that Trump was "encouraging violence against reporters" and "involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office".[134][135][136][137] CNN also responded to the tweet by quoting Sarah Huckabee Sanders who claimed the previous week "The president in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary".[134] Meanwhile, in an interview on ABC's This Week, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert said that "no one would perceive [the tweet] as a threat".[134][138] Trump subsequently said that CNN took the post too seriously, adding that CNN has "hurt themselves very badly".[139]

The clip appeared on pro-Trump subreddit, /r/The Donald, about four days earlier,[134][140][141][142] and was created by a Reddit account with a history of making racist, antisemitic and bigoted posts.[143] A White House official later denied that the video came from Reddit; the official declined "to respond to questions about where the president obtained the clip."[144]

As of July 5, 2017, the tweet had been retweeted over 340,000 times, making it Trump's most retweeted post. The tweet had also edged out Trump's Election Day tweet, which reads "TODAY WE MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN".[145][146]

Comments on North Korea

In September 2017, Trump posted tweets about North Korea that some saw as violating Twitter's rule against making threats of violence. Trump's September 23 tweet stated "Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" ("Little Rocket Man" is Trump's nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.) A tweet Trump posted five days earlier stated that under certain circumstances, "we will have no choice but to totally destroy #NoKo". On September 25, Twitter stated that among the factors they consider in whether a tweet violates their rules are the newsworthiness and whether the tweet is of public interest. The company acknowledged that these guidelines are internal, and stated they would update their public-facing rules to reflect them.[147]

Attacks on federal judges and Justice Department

As president, Trump has frequently used Twitter to make personal attacks against federal judges who have ruled against him in court cases.[148][149][150] In February 2017, Trump referred to U.S. District Judge James Robart, who had enjoined Trump's travel ban from taking effect, as a "so-called judge" and wrote, "If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"[150] Legal experts expressed concerns that such comments undermined the federal judiciary and could "undermine public confidence in an institution capable checking his power."[149]

In other Tweets, Trump criticized his own U.S. Department of Justice for defending his "watered down, politically correct version" of a travel ban (which Trump signed in March 2017) in court, rather than an initial version of the ban that Trump has signed in January 2017 (and was later declared unconstitutional by federal courts).[151][152][153]

Blocking of Twitter users

The @realDonaldTrump account has blocked various other Twitter accounts from view on his Twitter feed, including those of VoteVets.org and Stephen King.[154][155]

Lawsuit filed by blocked Twitter users

Lawyers from Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University stated in a letter to Trump that the blocking of users by the president from his view has violated their free-speech rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, Michael W. McConnell and UCLA School of Law's professor Eugene Volokh disagree.[156]

In July 2017, a group of Twitter users who had been blocked from Trump's personal Twitter account filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the @realDonaldTrump account constitutes a public forum, and blocking access to it is a violation of constitutional rights. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, also names as defendants White House press secretary Sean Spicer and social media director Dan Scavino. The plaintiffs are represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.[157][158]

Effects on litigation

Trump's statements in tweets have cited in court challenges against his actions as president; his anti-Muslim comments on Twitter have become particularly important in legal challenges to Executive Order 13769 (which Trump has called a "travel ban"), as courts consider his communications when addressing the motivations and purpose of the order.[159] In 2017, Trump's tweets were cited by both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which upheld rulings blocking Trump's executive order as unconstitutional. In its opinion, the Fourth Circuit cited the "backdrop of public statements by the President and his advisers and representatives" as evidence that the order "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination"; the Ninth Circuit wrote that "throughout these judicial proceedings, the president has continued to make generalized, often inflammatory, statements about the Muslim faith and its adherents," including through Tweets.[160] Peter J. Spiro, a legal scholar at Temple University, noted that Trump's November 2017 tweets of anti-Muslim videos would almost certainly be cited by challengers to Trump's third version of a travel ban, as evidence that the orders were unconstitutionally motivated by anti-Muslim animus.[161]

Trump's tweets were also cited by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in its ruling in Jane Doe v. Trump issuing a preliminary injunction blocking Trump's ban on service by transgender people in the military from going into effect. The court determined that Trump's sudden policy announcement on Twitter comment undermined his claim that the ban was motivated by genuine concern for military efficiency.[162][163][164] The court wrote: "[Trump] abruptly announced, via Twitter—without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans—that all transgender individuals would be precluded from participating in the military in any capacity. These circumstances provide additional support for Plaintiffs' claim that the decision to exclude transgender individuals was not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy."[162][163]

A tweet suggesting that tapes of his conversations with James Comey may exist was viewed by some lawyers as potential witness tampering.[159]

Effects on the stock market

Trump‘s posts have a big reach and therefore single stocks were influenced by this posts in the past. On 22nd December 2016 Trump posted: ’Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!‘ [165] After this post, the stocks of Lockheed Martin dropped significantly, but the stock price of Boeing just increased slightly. Another example is a post on Amazon: ‘Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt - many jobs being lost!‘[166] on the 17th August 2017. Afterwards, the market capitalization of Amazon declined by 6 billion.[167] But there are also contrary examples: The New York Times stock remained stable or even rose when Trump posted about ‘failing New York Times’ One reason for that might be the publication of good quarterly results by the New York Times.[168]

Deletion of tweets

While the National Archives and Records Administration has recommended archiving all social media postings to comply with the Presidential Records Act, the Trump Administration has deleted multiple public posts.[169] Following Alabama Senator Luther Strange's loss to Justice Roy Moore in the September 2017 primary for the Senate special election, Trump deleted at least two tweets previously posted in support of Strange.[170] In November 2017, following criticism [171] from the office of the British Prime Minister regarding Trump's retweeting of several videos from far-right British nationalist group Britain First (see § Britain First videos), Trump tweeted at Twitter user @theresamay, while presumably intending to target @theresa_may; Trump later deleted the original tweet,[172] and sent a new tweet [173] targeting @theresa_may with the same content.[174]

Presidential Records Act lawsuit over deletion of Tweets

In June 2017, the watchdog group CREW and the National Security Archive filed suit against Trump, contending that deletion of tweets is the destruction of presidential records in violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1981.[175]

Brief deactivation

Trump's personal Twitter account was deactivated for eleven minutes on November 2, 2017. Twitter stated that a customer support employee had deactivated the account on his last day of work. The official @POTUS account remained online during the period that the personal account was taken offline. [176][177][178] On November 29, 2017, a German man named Bahtiyar Duysak was identified by media outlets as being the Twitter employee who deactivated the account.[179][180]

Satire, archives, and reactions

The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library, set up by The Daily Show in Manhattan in June 2017.

In June 2017, the satirical news program The Daily Show and its network, Comedy Central, set up a temporary museum space on West 57th Street, next to Trump Tower in Manhattan, that was dedicated to Trump's tweets.[181][182]

In 2017, the British journalist Peter Oborne and Tom Roberts published How Trump Thinks, an anthology of Trump's Twitter posts from 2009 to March 2017.[183][184]

In August 2017, former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson set up a GoFundMe fundraising page in an attempt to buy a majority interest in Twitter and kick Donald Trump off of the network.[185]

Tweets as distractions

Some commentators view Trump's tweets as having either the purpose or effect of distracting from issues. Richard Wolffe, writing in March 2017, wrote: "Some political observers discern a deliberate pattern of distraction and diversion in the early morning tweets that are the product of the president’s prodigious fingers. When the media coverage, or the congressional pressure, gets too tough, a simple tweet is enough to send the press stampeding in the other direction."[186] Dan Mahaffee of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress opined that Trump's tweets distracted from pressing national issues, writing that to dismiss Trump's tweets "as intemperate outbursts or merely stream-of-consciousness responses to current events would thus greatly underestimate their impact and reach" and opining that Trump's tweets elevated "the trivial at the expense of the consequential."[187] Financial Times columnist Courtney Weaver viewed Trump's Twitter attacks against NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as "weapons of mass distraction" that diverted attention from the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and wrote that "The more time that is spent discussing the president's latest stand-off with the NFL, the less time is spent discussing the Republicans' latest failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, and other administration shortcomings."[188] Analyst Philip Bump of the Washington Post views Trump's Tweets as attempts to distract in times of unfavorable news related to the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.[189]

Other commentators do not agree with the notion that Trump's tweets are distractions. Essayist Frank Rich of New York magazine argues that Trump's Tweets (1) are frequently news in themselves; (2) indicate a heightened instability within Trump administration; and (3) are not aimed at news consumers, but rather "are intended to rally his base" of supporters.[190]

Other social media platforms

Facebook

During his 2016 campaign, Trump posted several attack ads on his Facebook page. These include parodies of Pokémon Go[191] and Ms. Pac-Man,[192] portraying Hillary Clinton as a Pokémon and as Ms. Pac-Man, respectively. He also used the platform to issue an apology for the Donald Trump and Billy Bush recording.[193] As president, he received criticism for posting a news story about a purported Kuwaiti travel ban similar to Executive Order 13769;[194] Kuwait's foreign minister insists that no such ban existed.[195]

A series of accusations happened one week after Facebook affirmed that the company was ready to cooperate with the parliamentary committee which investigates into the links between the electoral campaign Trump and Russia. Facebook contends on this occasion that accounts bound according to its analysis to the Russian government had bought approximately $100,000 USD of Facebook advertisements during the electoral campaign, and alleges that could constitute an important intervention in the U.S. elections.

In response, Trump claimed that Facebook was against him, criticizing the website in a series of tweets published on September 27. He said, "Facebook was always anti-Trump. Television channels were always anti-Trump, where from fake news - the New York Times (which apologized) and the Washington Post were anti-Trump. Collusion?".[196] Zuckerberg replied directly to Donald Trump: "Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don't like. That's what running a platform for all ideas looks like." Zuckerberg said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Instagram

Donald Trump initially used his personal account on Instagram (@realDonaldTrump) primarily to share personal pictures, including images of himself with his grandchildren.[197][198] In September 2015—then with approximately 377 thousand followers—[197] he used the platform to release a political advertisement. This ad, "Act of Love", attacked primary opponent Jeb Bush on the topic of immigration. Along with Bush's responses, it demonstrated that Instagram could be a political tool rather than merely a personal photo-sharing application.[197] Trump also used the platform to contribute to the controversy regarding the 2016 film Ghostbusters by posting a video criticizing the all-female cast. In response, director Paul Feig claimed that "Trump supporters" were responsible for some of the "internet hate" directed at the film.[199]

When Trump became president, his personal account had grown to over 5 million followers.[198] He also assumed control of an official account (@whitehouse), where he posted pictures from his inauguration.[198] At that time, it was expected that the official account would primarily feature the work of the Chief Official White House Photographer once one was selected;[198] however, Shealah Craighead has contributed relatively little, especially in comparison to Pete Souza's work during the Obama administration.[200]

Reddit

On July 27, 2016, Trump took part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA), where he responded to user-submitted questions from Reddit's /r/The Donald community. He offered replies on topics that varied from media bias and voter fraud to NASA, including a question about H-1B visas posed by alt-right[201] media personality Milo Yiannopoulos.[202][203] Trump also posted several pre-debate messages on the subreddit.[204][205]

YouTube

From 2011 until 2013 or 2014, Trump created over 80 installments of a video blog (vlog) on YouTube called "From the Desk of Donald Trump".[lower-alpha 3] In it, he discussed a variety of topics, ranging from serious issues such as the Libyan Civil War, Obamacare, and the American job market to less weighty matters, including the Vanity Fair Oscar party and his dislike of Mike McGlone's Rhetorical Questions advertisements for GEICO.[206][207] In several installments, he speculated on a possible presidential candidacy in 2012 that never came to pass,[206] but many of the themes featured in the vlog were part of his successful campaign in 2016.[207] By June 2017, most of these videos were no longer available on YouTube under Trump's account.[208][better source needed]

See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 The original tweets, in chronological order, are:
  2. The "covfefe" tweets, in chronological order, are:
  3. Cody Johnston reports that there were 96 installments from 2011 to 2014, including one duplicate.[206] Olivia Nuzzi described the series as only running until 2013, with 83 installments.[207]

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