Donald Trump on social media

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Donald J. TrumpTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!

July 2, 2017[1]

Donald Trump's usage of social media has attracted worldwide attention. The main coverage has been about his tweets regarding various subjects since he joined social networking site Twitter in March 2009. Trump has frequently used Twitter and other social media platforms to make comments about other politicians, celebrities and daily news. He relied on Twitter significantly to communicate during the 2016 United States presidential campaign. The attention on Trump's Twitter activity has significantly increased since he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and has continued to post controversial or false statements.[2][3][4][5]

Then-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: Social media in the United States presidential election campaigns

The emergence of social media has changed the way in which political communication takes place in the United States. Political institutions such as politicians, political parties, foundations, institutions, and political think tanks are all using social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, to communicate with and engage voters. Regular individuals, politicians, "pundits" and thought leaders alike are able to voice their opinions, engage with a wide network, and connect with other likeminded individuals.[9] According to Wael Ghonim, social media can reinforce pre-existing beliefs rather than promote new ones. Social media, while a great source of gathering volunteers and money, serves the main purpose of affirming political beliefs and strengthening a political base.[10] Politicians have a platform to communicate with that is different from the mainstream media. Politicians have the ability to raise large amounts of money in relatively short periods of time through social media campaigns. In 2012 President Obama raised over a billion dollars for his campaign, which broke the fundraising record. Around $690 million was raised through online donations including social media, email, and website donations and more money was raised from small donors than ever before.[11]

The 2008 US presidential election was the first election in which candidates utilized the Internet and social media networking as a communicative tool incorporated into candidates' campaigns.[12] In 2008, President-elect Barack Obama was the first to use the Internet to organize supporters, advertise, and communicate with individuals in a way that had been impossible in previous elections.[13] Obama utilized sites like YouTube to advertise through videos. The videos posted on YouTube by Obama's were viewed for 14.5 million hours.[13][14] As of 2012, election more candidates were utilizing a wider array of social media platforms.[15] Politicians were now on social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other new social media tools and mobile apps. Some of the candidates used social media sites to announce their candidacy. Barack Obama emailed a video to 13 million when he announced his intention to run for re-election and Mitt Romney sent out a tweet.[15] By May 16, 2011, @BarackObama was followed by 7.4 million people, including twenty-eight world leaders.[16] His account became the third account to reach 10 million followers in September 2011.[17][18]

Twitter

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

The Trump presidential campaign benefited from large numbers of supporters who were active on social media from the beginning of the campaign. Some supporters called themselves “Centipedes” online.[19]

Timeline

In 2009, marketing staffer Peter Costanzo suggested to Trump that he could use social media to draw attention to his book, Think Like a Champion, which was due to be released later that year. He was unable to use the username @DonaldTrump, as it was already being used by a parody account. He and his marketing team decided to use the username @realDonaldTrump.[20] Trump sent out his first tweet on May 4, 2009, advertising his upcoming appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, which was due to air a couple of days later.[20]

From 2009 to 2011, tweets posted by the @realDonaldTrump account 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.[20] 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.[21][22] 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.[23] 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 tweets from those sent in his name, even when staffers attempted to emulate his writing style.[24]

In 2012, following the victory of President Barack Obama in the US Presidential election, Trump tweeted a chain of disparaging comments about Obama's win. Trump began that Election Day with a flurry of familiar complaints. He mocked Obama for playing basketball and blamed the Chinese for creating "the concept of global warming". Trump tweeted the next day, "but we'll have to live with it!" and: We have to make America great again![25] In response, Obama quipped on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno that Trump's beef with him "dated back to their days growing up in Kenya".[26]

From 2013 onwards, Trump's Twitter activity pattern significantly increased in the volume of his tweets and the rate of politically charged rhetoric, channeling the same bluntness that helped fuel his political rise.[27][28]

Twitter was an important political communication tool of Trump's presidential election campaign in 2016, and has been credited as contributing to his victory.[29] Dan Pfeiffer, Obama's former digital and social media guru, commented that Donald Trump is "way better at the internet than anyone else in the GOP which is partly why he is winning".[30]

In 2017, 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 2017. Following Trump's inauguration, he gained control of the official U.S. Presidential Twitter account (@POTUS), which had been created by the previous President, Barack Obama. Trump's first tweets as president were made from his personal account, but he has used both accounts.[31]

Live-tweeting Fox & Friends

Trump is a known viewer of the Fox News show Fox & Friends and has tweeted reactions to what he has seen on the show on numerous occasions. One well-known example is his tweet on January 2, 2018, when he stated that his "Nuclear Button" was "much bigger & more powerful" than Kim Jong Un's, following a Fox News segment about Jong Un's "Nuclear Button" minutes before. Trump watches several hours of cable news shows each day, using the "Super TiVo" he had installed at the White House.[32] News organizations have compiled lists of Trump tweets directly repeating what he was watching. The result is that stories that Fox concentrates on become nationally important stories by virtue of the fact that they appear in presidential tweets, setting up a feedback loop.[33] For his first year in office, he has mentioned the Fox & Friends Twitter account more than any other account.[34]

Insults

In January 2016, a review by The New York Times found that one in every eight posts by Trump on Twitter "was a personal insult of some kind".[35] As of November 2017, Trump had insulted 394 people (including private citizens), places, and things on Twitter, ranging from politicians to journalists and news outlets to entire countries.[36] 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.[37] 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";[38] the union president received threatening phone calls afterward.[39] Trump often gives opponents nicknames such as "Lyin' Ted".[40][41]

Sharing of far-right and extremist content

Trump has been criticized for his practice of retweeting or copying material from social media accounts posting antisemitic, racist, or false information, such as claims exaggerating the number of crimes committed by black people.[42][43][44]

During campaign

PolitiFact singled out as particularly obviously false an image retweeted by Trump that claimed that 81% of white murder victims are killed by black people. Politifact noted that, besides being a five-fold exaggeration, the claim was sourced to the non-existent "Crime Statistics Bureau, San Francisco"; it later highlighted this retweet when awarding its 2015 "Lie of the Year" badge to Trump's entire presidential campaign.[45][46] The fake statistics were first posted by a neo-Nazi Twitter account.[44]

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.[47][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.[47][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."[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 Prime Minister Theresa May in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2017. The May Ministry condemned Trump's Tweets and Britain First.

On November 29, 2017, Trump retweeted three inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos from Britain First, the British far-right and ultranationalist group that has a history of posting misleading videos.[54] One of the videos purported to show an assault by a Muslim immigrant, but the assailant was neither a Muslim nor an immigrant.[55] Another video was filmed in 2013 during the Syrian Civil War, showing 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." A third video contains footage filmed 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.[54] 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][54][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, 29 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, increased Islamophobic comment on social media, and elevated the profile of Britain First.[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!"[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 November 30, 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]

In a January 2018 interview with Piers Morgan for Good Morning Britain, Trump said he was not familiar with Britain First when he retweeted them, stating, "If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that."[79]

Other controversial tweets

Trump Tower wiretapping allegations

Donald J. TrumpTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

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

March 4, 2017[a]

In a succession of tweets on March 4, 2017,[80][a] 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.[80][81] He did not say where he had obtained the information and offered no evidence to support it.[82] 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.[81]

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, whom 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]

"Covfefe"

Donald J. TrumpTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

Despite the constant negative press covfefe

May 30, 2017[b]

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.[90][91] The tweet was retweeted over 127,000 times, and liked more than 162,000 times, making it one of Trump's most popular tweets in months, as people speculated on the meaning of covfefe. Six hours later, Trump deleted the tweet and posted an alternative one, asking people what they thought covfefe could mean.[92] The Independent later noted that covfefe most likely meant coverage.[93]

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.[94] 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".[95] 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".[96] 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.[97]

Leonid Bershidsky, writing for Bloomberg View, compared the phenomenon to an incident in which President Ronald Reagan made a gaffe while joking on a live microphone, "We begin bombing in five minutes."[98] Bill Coffin of 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."[99]

Two weeks later, Democratic representative Mike Quigley filed legislation titled the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act. 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.[100]

About a year later, on May 17, 2018, Trump jokingly said “I hear covfefe” in response to the Yanny or Laurel meme.[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, 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 taken out of context and 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 described 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. 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] 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, despite the fact that Khan did not respond to Trump's comments.[113]

Senator John McCain criticized the comments made by Trump, stating that America was "not showing leadership around the world."[114] During the same discussion, McCain also commented that the former-President Barack Obama and his administration had offered better leadership. He later partially retracted by stating that only certain "different aspects" were better during Obama's presidency, but still stood by his criticism of Trump's social media views.[115][116]

2017–18 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 June 6, 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] 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.[122][123] Earlier, the US Secretary of State had taken a neutral stance and called for dialogue.[124]

Comments on Morning Joe hosts

Donald J. TrumpTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

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..

June 29, 2017[125]

Donald J. TrumpTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

…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!

June 29, 2017[125]

On June 29, 2017, Trump tweeted about Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who earlier in the day had talked about Trump on their show. The tweets referred to the hosts as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe", and claimed that Brzezinski tried to join Trump on New Year's Eve but was declined because she was bleeding from a facelift.[126]

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."[126] 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".[127] 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."[127] Rebukes also came from Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford, New York Democratic Representative Nita Lowey, and Kansas Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins.[127]

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."[128] 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."[129]

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."[125] Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated, "Look, I don't think that the president's ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn't push back. ... 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."[130]

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!"[131]

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.[132]

CNN wrestling video

On July 2, 2017, Trump tweeted a video of himself attacking 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".[133][134][135][136] 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."[133] Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert said that "no one would perceive [the tweet] as a threat."[133][137] Trump subsequently said that CNN took the post too seriously, adding that CNN has "hurt themselves very badly".[138]

The clip appeared on pro-Trump subreddit, /r/The Donald, about four days earlier,[133][139][140][141] and was created by a Reddit account which had previously posted racist, antisemitic and bigoted content.[142] 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."[143] As of July 5, 2017, the tweet had been retweeted over 340,000 times, making it Trump's most retweeted post.

Comments on North Korea

Donald J. TrumpTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

The🇺🇸has great strength & patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy #NoKo.

September 19, 2017[144]

In September 2017, Trump posted tweets about North Korea that some saw as violating Twitter's rule against making threats of violence. On September 19, he stated that under certain circumstances, "we will have no choice but to totally destroy #NoKo", and on September 23, "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.) In response to user concerns, Twitter cited newsworthiness and whether the tweet is of public interest as factors they consider in whether a tweet violates their rules. The company acknowledged that these guidelines are internal, and stated they would update their public-facing rules to reflect them.[145]

Attacks on federal judges, officials, departments and FBI

As president, Trump has frequently used Twitter to make personal attacks against federal judges who have ruled against him in court cases.[146][147][148] 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!"[148] Legal experts expressed concerns that such comments undermined the federal judiciary and could "undermine public confidence in an institution capable checking his power."[147]

In June 2017, Trump criticized his own United States 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).[149][150][151] In January 2018, Trump tweeted that his Justice Department is part of the American "deep state".[152] In March 2018, Trump tweeted that "there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State" Departments.[153] Previously in December 2017, Trump tweeted that the FBI's "reputation" was at its the worst ever after years under James Comey.[154]

In June 2017, Trump tweeted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's investigation of Trump (via a special counsel Robert Mueller) was a "witch hunt".[155] In March 2018, Trump reiterated that the "Mueller probe should never have been started" and was a "WITCH HUNT!".[156]

Trump has tweeted disapproval of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on various occasions.[157][158][159][160][161]

In October 2017, Trump tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "wasting his time trying to negotiate with" North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.[162] In March 2018, Trump fired Tillerson via a tweet.[163]

In February 2018, after National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster said there was "incontrovertible" evidence that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, Trump tweeted that McMaster "forgot to say" that the Russians had colluded with the Democrats and that the Russians had not impacted the election results.[164]

Blocking of Twitter users

The @realDonaldTrump account has blocked various Twitter accounts from viewing his Twitter feed.[165][166]

In July 2017, a lawsuit was brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. (The federal suit, case number 1:17-cv-05205, was filed in the Southern District of New York.) The plaintiffs are 7 Twitter users, whose accounts who had been blocked from President Donald Trump's personal Twitter account, alleging that the @realDonaldTrump account constitutes a public forum. The lawsuit argues that blocking access to @realDonaldTrump account is a violation of constitutional rights and a violation of the plaintiff's First Amendment rights. Issues arise as to how the Constitution applies to freedom of speech in digital computer technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.[167] The lawsuit also names as defendants White House press secretary Sean Spicer and social media director Dan Scavino.[168][169]

In May 2018, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York ruled that the plaintiffs “were indisputably blocked as a result of viewpoint discrimination.” She also ruled that elements of @realDonaldTrump constitute a public forum. Viewpoint discrimination in those elements that are public forums is a violation of the First Amendment.[170]

Effects on litigation

Trump's statements in tweets have been cited in court challenges against his actions as president; his Twitter posts on Muslims have been significant in legal challenges to Executive Order 13769 (which Trump has called a "travel ban"), as courts have considered Trump's statements in assessing the motivations and purpose of the order.[171] 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.[172] 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.[173]

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.[174][175][176] 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."[174][175]

Effects on the stock market

On December 22, 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!‘ [177] After this post, the stocks of Lockheed Martin dropped significantly and the stock price of Boeing increased slightly. Another example is the on August 17, 2017 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!‘[178] Afterwards, the market capitalization of Amazon declined by $6 billion.[179] However, there are also contrary examples: The New York Times stock remained stable or even rose when Trump posted about ‘failing New York Times.’[180]

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.[181] 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.[182] In November 2017, following criticism [183] 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,[184] and sent a new tweet [185] targeting @theresa_may with the same content.[186]

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.[187]

Brief deactivation

Trump's personal Twitter account was deactivated for eleven minutes on November 2, 2017. The official @POTUS account remained online during the period that the personal account was taken offline.[188][189][190] Twitter announced that the account's shutdown was accidental. Moments later, it followed up with the information that a customer support employee deliberately deactivated the account on his last day of work.[191] On November 29, 2017, a German man of Turkish descent named Bahtiyar Duysak was identified by media outlets as being the Twitter employee who deactivated the account.[192][193][194][195][196][197] Donald Trump blamed a "rogue employee" for the temporary loss of his account.[198]

In his interviews with TechCrunch and CNN Duysak underlined that he didn't do anything illegal.[199][200] Duysak was working for Twitter's Trust and Safety division while in the U.S. on a work and study visa.[201] After the incident Duysak moved back home to Germany. He stated that his visa had expired.[202][203]

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.[204][205]

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.[206]

Some commentators view Trump's tweets as having either the purpose or effect of distracting from issues.[207] 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."[208] 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."[209] 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.[210]

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.[211]

Other social media platforms

Facebook

During his 2016 campaign, Trump posted a number of ads on his Facebook page, attacking Hillary Clinton. The ads included parodies of Pokémon Go[212] and Ms. Pac-Man,[213] portraying Hillary Clinton as a Pokémon and as Ms. Pac-Man. He also used the platform to issue an apology for the Donald Trump and Billy Bush recording.[214] As president, he received criticism for posting a news story about a purported Kuwaiti travel ban similar to Executive Order 13769;[215] Kuwait's foreign minister confirmed that no such ban existed.[216]

A series of accusations which happen 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 revealed on this occasion that accounts bound according to its analysis to the Russian government had bought for approximately 100 000 dollars of Facebook advertisements during the electoral campaign, what would constitute an important intervention in the U.S. elections.[217]

In response, Trump claimed that Facebook was against him, criticizing the website in a series of comments on Twitter 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?".[218] Zuckerberg replied directly to Donald Trump in a statement posted to Facebook: "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."[219][220]

A Wired article asserted that as Trump's Facebook ads were controversial, he was charged less per ad than Clinton was, as he was boosted by the clickrate of his ads.[221] In response to this, Facebook released data showing that Trump was charged more for his ads, but did not provide data on how the ads were shared by users.[222]

Instagram

Donald Trump initially used his personal account on Instagram (@realDonaldTrump) primarily to share personal pictures, including images of himself with his grandchildren.[223][224] In September 2015—then with approximately 377 thousand followers—[223] 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.[223] 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.[225]

When Trump became president, his personal account had grown to over 5 million followers.[224] He also assumed control of an official account (@whitehouse), where he posted pictures from his inauguration.[224] 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;[224] however, Shealah Craighead has contributed relatively little, especially in comparison to Pete Souza's work during the Obama administration.[226]

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[227] media personality Milo Yiannopoulos.[228][229] Trump also posted several pre-debate messages on the subreddit.[230][231]

YouTube

From 2011 until 2013 or 2014, Trump created over 80 installments of a vlog on YouTube called "From the Desk of Donald Trump".[c] 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.[232][233] In several installments, he speculated on a possible presidential candidacy in 2012 that never came to pass,[232] but many of the themes featured in the vlog were part of his successful campaign in 2016.[233] By June 2017, most of these videos were no longer available on YouTube under Trump's account.[234][better source needed]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b The original tweets about wiretapping are, in chronological order:
    • Trump, Donald [@realDonaldTrump] (March 4, 2017). "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
    • Trump, Donald [@realDonaldTrump] (March 4, 2017). "Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!" (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
    • Trump, Donald [@realDonaldTrump] (March 4, 2017). "I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!" (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
    • Trump, Donald [@realDonaldTrump] (March 4, 2017). "How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!" (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ The "covfefe" tweets are, in chronological order:
  3. ^ Cody Johnston reports that there were 96 installments from 2011 to 2014, including one duplicate.[232] Olivia Nuzzi described the series as only running until 2013, with 83 installments.[233]

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External links

  • President Trump (official) on Twitter
  • Donald Trump (personal) on Twitter
  • Donald Trump on Instagram
  • President Trump (official) on Facebook
  • Donald Trump (personal) on Facebook
  • Donald Trump on Reddit
  • From the Desk of Donald Trump playlist on YouTube
  • Trump Tweets at CNN
  • List of Donald Trump deleted tweets on Factbase
  • Trump Twitter archive Searchable database
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