A detailed analysis exploring the way in which Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, uses Twitter in it’s full capability as a means of communicating his personal opinions towards the public.
After studying several topics within my Graphic Design in Context class, I was intrigued by the subject of Politics the greatest, particularly the way in which social media can create an uproar and affect real life situations regardless of how unserious and silly the statements are or come across. Donald Trump, the current president of the United States of America, has been described as America’s “TV president” (Nesbit, 2016) due to his previous debuts on television as well as being the first famous person to become the president. Focusing on the social media application Twitter, which was founded in the year 2006 (‘Twitter’, 2018) as a private company by Jack Dorsey, I wanted to inspect the way in which Trump approaches and handles it. Unfortunately, there are no books discussing Trump’s usage of the app and how incredibly awkward and unprofessional it looks but considering the topic is of social media, I believe it is acceptable to use sources such as articles and online newscasts. In this essay, I will be breaking down his use of Twitter through the analysis of his popular “viral” tweets to demonstrate how it has affected his presidential campaign as well as the public.
Figure 1. An overview of Donald Trump’s Twitter account (2018)
A first impression on the overview of the manner Trump tweets in almost suggests that he exaggerates his personal problems so they can result into public battles. This allows them to receive attention as well as a response. Between being the president of the United States and a role model for the people, where and why does he find the time to tweet such bogus? And of course, why is it still being allowed?
To provide a little background information on this case, Donald Trump first joined Twitter in the year 2009, the month of March to be precise, when the world was a far less complicated place that didn’t exactly revolve around technology, but was more keen on learning about it.
Trump’s first official tweet was sent on the 4th of May of the same year and was to let his fans and followers know about his guest appearance on the show ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ (Hartmans, 2017).
A first tweet with the new rookie SMS inspired application (Trump, 2009)
Back to the times before he wormed his way into politics, Trump was recognised for his workmanship in businesses as well as TV appearances. He was privileged enough to inherit his fathers real estate company at the age of twenty-five and settled on renaming it ‘The Trump Organization’ (‘Donald Trump’, 2018). After turning his name into a brand, he ran into a few mishaps with bankruptcy (CNN, 2018) however somehow managed to become the president as well as acquire a net worth of more than 3 billion, with 1.5 billion invested into NYC real estate as well as another 560 million into his golf club resorts (Forbes, 2018).
Trumps twitter account was initially used to promote his new book “Think Like a Champion” along with other platforms such as Youtube (ExpandedBooks, 2009) and tweets were written and sent by staff members such as Peter Constanzo however, over the years, he eventually used the account solely to make comments and slander other politicians and celebrities (‘Donald Trump on Social Media’, 2018). Before he was officially announced the 45th President of the United States of America, he claimed he would “dial down” on tweeting as well as the overall usage of his social media accounts (McCormick, 2016) to appear more fit for the professional job, nonetheless, during his 2016 campaign, he relied on the network a lot more than expected and managed to obtain a lot of attention through it.
Pattinson can do so much better in Trump’s opinion (Trump, 2012)
Previously, Trump would speak on several relevant matters which increased the volume of followers he possessed each time. Above is an example (Trump, 2012). Trump stated his opinion, although it was not asked, on the Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson scandal. Stewart had cheated on her boyfriend and Twilight superstar, Robert Pattinson, with director Rupert Sanders (Eggenberger, 2013) and Trump felt it was very necessary to touch on the topic but did so again (Trump, 2012) ..
and again (Trump, 2012)
and again (Trump, 2012),
..and, again (Trump, 2012). All in a matter of five days.
Tweets like this would all catch light which encouraged Trump to speak his mind more, since there was so much support. Below are some more examples of Trump speaking his mind:
Since 2013, Trump’s twitter style has remained consistent with criticism and remarks on everything and is said to have an average of 11 tweets per day (‘Donald Trump on Social Media’, 2018).
Trump’s twitter activity from the day he made the account, 2009, to last year September, 2017. You can see during the year 2013, his tweeting activity increased dramatically. (‘Donald Trump on Social Media’, 2018)
Trump explained how he believed Twitter and Facebook are “great forms of communication” (McCormick, 2016) and allow him to have a “method of fighting back” against the backlash of a bad or inaccurate story. And of course, he had the full support of the country he made “great again” and using his newly made 2020 slogan “will keep great” (Barnes, 2018) as the first amendment allows freedom of speech (United States History, 2018)! Unless of course you’re a woman, black, disabled or Muslim. But free speech for everyone who isn’t that! Yay!
Next I will be discussing the presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. This aired on the… was listed as the most tweeted debate (Jarvey, 2016) in Twitter history, holding up to 17.1 million interactions.
Trump and Clinton head to head during a presidential debate (Richards, 2016)
While reading through articles about the debate, this is what was written: “During what turned out to be the most tweeted about debate ever, Trump refused to drop his tax records but instead offered his number of followers on his social-media accounts.” Trump then continue to state “Between Facebook and Twitter I have almost 25 million people,” Trump said at the second presidential debate. “I’m not un-proud of it, to be honest with you.” (White, 2016).
This statement alone further proves that social status Trump has accumulated through Twitter has the ability to fulfil Trump, making him feel accomplished and established due to having such a high amount of followers. It also proposes that Trump respects popularity more than what’s right, using the amount of believers he has as an excuse for anything he does.
The dumbest conspiracy theory I’ve ever read (Trump, 2012)
I believe due to the level of absurdity, the tweet seen above was the most retweeted tweet from that night although it was said over 4 years ago at the time.
Although Trump continuously creates chaos with his excessive tweeting, I do believe there are a few excuses explaining his online existence:
a. He’s the President of the United States which allows him immunity to any sort of discipline or termination despite the copious amounts of disrespect he delivers,
b. Because he trends! He generates debates and interactions but regardless, he brings attention which is beneficial for the app!
c. It’s awfully entertaining. It’s impossible to believe the president of the United States is the same man who tweeted “Happy Father’s Day to all, even the haters and the losers!” (Trump, 2013)
A very lovely message to the community Trump strives to impress (Trump, 2013)
The founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, was indeed questioned about the reasoning behind allowing Trump to be on the application actively as well as the matter of banning Trump and why it hasn’t taken place yet. Without entirely addressing the president by name, it was explained that by “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate” as well as “it would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions,” (White, 2018).
Twitter users have publicly brought their concerns to the Twitter headquarters located in New York directly using visual protests. In the photo below, the quote “Be a Hero: Ban Trump” can be seen projected onto the building.
Protest held outside of Twitter HQ about banning Trump from their app (2018)
Despite all the efforts made, his social empire still stands.This brings into question, would Twitter have allowed Adolf Hitler to have an account? Probably. Is it right to? No, it shouldn’t be but due to the level of power possessed, anything is possible.
In the opening of this essay, I briefly mentioned technology. I am now going to go further into the topic because over the years, it has become the norm to own a handful of social media accounts. The influence of social media is often disregarded but is able to affect your perception and has the capability of exposing information. The power is in everyone’s hands but is exclusively dangerous to those with an immense following.
As Drake once said in his hit diss-track towards Meek Mill “trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers” (Drake, 2015) and I believe this lyric applies to Trump. Anytime Trump has felt or feels inferior or provoked, he resorts to Twitter in such a way that a therapist’s patient would. It displays vulnerability and childish behaviour. This action of provocative tweeting alone is very alarming and can potentially cause dangerous decisions to be made.
Recently North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed that Trump had declared war on his Country (Allen, 2017). What was Trumps response to this?
Of course Trump tweeted something sweet that would fizzle out the rumours and allow the pair to be friends. Don’t be daft, of course he didn’t (Trump, 2018)
Verbally attacking a possible threat and opponent to your country is like inviting a war to your country and isn’t exactly the best way to go about things. Do we really need a world war 3?
Again, the impulsiveness of his Trump’s tweets is a key reason why he should be banned. This type of explosive behaviour is dangerous because it has demonstrated what gets to him, what ticks him off and pushes him to make certain comments; should he be allowed to show such vulnerability considering the risks?
Although Trump’s twitter is identified as a gag and is able to present emotionally filled tweets, when serious situations do occur, it is very hard to acknowledge any attempts at sincerity. Unfortunately, the state of Florida recently experienced a school shooting, the 17th school shooting to happen in America just this year alone (Aiello, 2018). It was tragic and caused the lives of 17 people to be lost. What was Trumps response to this?
“Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again” but they did, and wasn’t listened to. (Trump, 2018)
Rather than blaming the perpetrator and Gunman, Nikolas Cruz, Trump somehow managed to flip the script and victim blame. There were also many records of reports on Cruz that were ignored. Not only was the school was let down, but whole the nation was. A school should be one of the safest environments to be and it’s incredibly sad this happened.
Many people fired back at Trump with tweets demanding gun control and to stop putting cuts on Mental Health programmes, as they believe these would have prevented the incident. There was in fact so much commentary on the incident, it impacted Trump to engage in changing the age limit for guns despite claiming there was “not much political support”.
Trump in regards to age limits within buying guns (Trump, 2018)
To conclude, Twitter could be recognised as the unsupervised ammunition Trump needed for his Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, a gun which has been listed as America’s most popular gun of the year 2016 (CBS News, 2016). Unfortunately, as long as Twitter keeps its rules of allowing a world leader on the platform despite the way they behave, there will always be a debate. Not everyone is going to be happy with the result but I do believe there should be action taken on the restriction of what he can tweet as he does often come out with ridiculous, false statements.
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Figure 1. Screenshot of Donald Trump’s Twitter page. Donald Trump, Twitter. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump Screenshot by author (11 March 2018)
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