“Yuge” Thumbs of fury: Trump and Twitter

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A. Wei '21

It’s 3:30 A.M. Do you know where your president is?

One of the most remarkable things about this recent election cycle was the condemnation of so-called mainstream media from both sides of the spectrum. Both Senator Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump were outspoken against what they deemed unfair media coverage, although Mr. Trump certainly got a fair bit more of that coverage—for free. Therefore, due to the false reporting that was allegedly rampant in every news outlet that criticized him, Mr. Trump took to Twitter. His personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, currently has 20 million followers. He has used the platform to insult opponents, attack President Obama, condemn the entire profession of politics, and make fun of a whole host of journalists—most notably, Megyn Kelly. In addition, Trump has spread countless fake news stories and propagated an array of falsehoods, half-truths, and ‘alternative facts.’

In August 2012, Trump tweeted the following: “An ‘extremely credible source’ (sic) has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” This tweet came sixteen months after the release of Mr. Obama’s long-form birth certificate by the state of Hawaii. In fact, then-Senator Obama had released the short-form version of his birth certificate before the 2008 election—some four years before Trump’s tweet.

In addition to spreading lies, President Trump has a history of insulting women and the disabled, has advocated  watching pornography, and referred to his “haters and losers” in a tweet on the twelfth anniversary of 9/11. Nearly all of the insults, lies, and attacks come from one source: Twitter. President Trump has taken to the social media site in an unprecedented boycott of conventional news media. He uses his unmoderated platform for hate speech and bullying.

Given Twitter’s lax moderation policies—ISIS propaganda accounts are a constant irritant on the site—President Trump is not breaking any rules. But Trump is no longer a reality TV star or property salesman. He is the President of the United States of America, ostensibly an office held by the leader of the free world. He should not be a bully or a hate monger. Once the election is over, it is up to the winner to make amends and offer an olive branch to the defeated candidate. Instead, Trump offered this tweet: “in addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” There is absolutely no factual evidence of any statistically-significant electoral fraud—let alone ‘millions’ of fraudulent votes—having taken place in November’s election.

Donald Trump pulled off an upset win in one of the most controversial elections in American history—receiving millions fewer votes than his opponent—yet his response was to make unfounded claims of voter fraud. Our President clearly does not understand the etiquette and nuance of being a winner—not a ‘winner’ in the gilded-toilet Trump Tower sense, but in the graceful one befitting the leader of the free world.

Before taking office, Trump announced his intention to keep control of his pulpit of hate (@realDonaldTrump), eschewing the official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS. Normally, a President-elect casts off his ties to his campaign in favor of the official trappings of office. Clearly, Donald Trump was no normal candidate, and he will certainly not be a normal President. The American people—especially those who did not support him—can only hope that ends up being a good president, however unconventional he may be.