Trump on Twitter: Refreshing Transparency or Dangerous Politics? trump twitter
In 2008, Presidential hopeful Barrack Obama broke new ground by using Facebook as a campaigning tool which, much like Senator Bernie Sanders’ use of social media, helped him appeal to young voters and ultimately capture the Presidency. trump twitter
Eight years later in our present day, similar patterns play out as Donald Trump has leveraged his personal Twitter account to broadcast his message directly to voters.
Now that Trump has taken office, he has officially been handed the keys to the White House along with the @POTUS Twitter account.
Some argue that The Donald’s twitter use is inappropriate for a man of his position, while others liken the President’s use of the social platform to FDR’s radio broadcasts with the public, which later became known as the “fireside chats.”
While Trump has voiced to CBS that his future use of Twitter will be “very restrained,” the President has proven that he is unwilling to cease his use of either of his Twitter accounts.
This begs the question: What kind of impact does Donald Trump’s tweeting have on the political and societal landscape?
When you consider the fact that 21% of all Americans and 24% of all internet users are present on Twitter and nearly 20% of Americans get their news from social media, the impacts, good and bad, are undeniably substantial.
Let’s take an honest look at the pros and cons of a President broadcasting his thoughts in 140 characters or less.
The Upside of Presidential Tweets
To start, Twitter – along with all social media websites – is a powerful and profound way for the nation’s leaders and citizens to discuss political actions. It is through this format that the public can engage in inclusive conversations that help to dispel “alternative facts.” trump twitter
More importantly, social media platforms can sometimes allow the general public to gain a sense of closeness or connectedness to figures that would otherwise be completely unreachable.
Tweets from celebrities and politicians serve as direct statements to followers and the world at large without PR intervention. This means that the public is able to gain from-the-source information about political agendas or the President’s mentality towards various situations.
This largely unfiltered forum gives increased power to not only political figures, but to the general public. Everyday citizens can initiate dialogues with those in power by voicing their concerns and opinions surrounding any political discussion.
Moreover, gaining direct information in this manner allows world citizens to bypass the disturbing amount of fake news penetrating the web and social media websites.
That said, virtually every one of these points has a darker side which could potentially serve to damage societal relations and international ties.
The Real Cost of Trump’s Tweets
While it can be perceived as a good thing that Trump leverages social technologies like Twitter, those who are appalled have loud and proud voices.
Let’s start with limitations – the little blue bird possesses a 140-character limit, which means highly-complex political issues become oversimplified through the platform. Narrowing down something like the controversial #MuslimBan in 140 characters or less is horrifyingly simplistic. trump twitter
This gives the public an extremely skewed and ill-informed understanding of the topic at hand as there is little to no room for nuance or elaboration.
And while the public can tweet to political figures like @POTUS, there is no guarantee that their tweet will be responded to or even seen; there is even a chance that people may get blocked for presenting opposing viewpoints, especially from the current administration.
This is how Donald Trump has used Twitter up until now; as an old-fashioned broadcasting system instead of a forum for debate. Therein lies the rub.
More importantly, President Trump’s unbridled use of Twitter allows him to make any number of claims, no matter their validity; and those claims will spread across social media quickly without any verification that they are in fact true.
When Trump Tweets on a topic, rather than engage in an interview or dialogue, no one is present to hold him accountable for false claims or bullying statements. This becomes especially dangerous considering that most Americans are not fans of personal research or fact-checking.
This point was made blatantly clear when computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute found that most people retweet news without ever actually reading the content. This is the exact behavior that allows fake news to spread so rapidly.
Many of the President’s supporters would argue that it is necessary to “…let Trump be Trump.” This kind of sentiment severely impacts the United States’ already polarized populace by pushing people further apart.
An influencer identification software company called Little Bird analyzed Trump’s tweets and found a divisive trend during his Presidential campaign run:
“Since the start of his campaign, Donald Trump has retweeted at least 75 users who follow at least three of the top 50 #WhiteGenocide influencers. Moreover, a majority of these retweeted accounts are themselves followed by more than 100 #WhiteGenocide influencers.”
When the President of the United States is tweeting, the whole world is watching. This means that any number of inflammatory remarks could irreparably damage U.S. relations with its allies or antagonize its enemies, potentially dragging the States into yet another war or plunging stock prices, effectively destabilizing the country’s economy. The power of these 140 character missives is terrifying. trump twitter
While some might think that this point is simply a biased view, consider the fact that during Trump’s campaign, his advisors had to take “. . . control of his Twitter account away from the candidate” as many of his tweets were considered damaging to his cause.
Donald Trump’s tweets are a fascinating – and often entertaining – display. They give the public a peek into the President’s current temperament while giving the man unrestricted access to say, or even verbally attack, whoever and whatever he wants.trump twitter
This is not to say that politicians should not leverage social media. When used correctly, social platforms can spark powerful movements and empower the average individual in the political arena. Using them for bullish shout-outs and erroneous sweeping statements when you’re the President, however, is inarguably concerning. trump twitter