This article examines the relationship between President Donald Trump and social media. The American public relies upon social media as a source of information about current events more during the period leading up to the election of President Donald Trump and during his presidency than ever before. As a result, social media plays an unprecedented role in American political life.
Via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Trump established a massive direct link to the American public unfiltered by the mainstream media. His social media audience was about 45 million people at the time of his inauguration in January 2017. Trump has used his social media platform for, among other things, criticizing political correctness and gun control.
Both as a candidate and as President, Donald Trump has used Twitter more than any other national political figure. President Trump himself noted that he could "get the honest and unfiltered message out" through Twitter, and he wrote on the social media site that "if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH."
The question arose in the course of defending President Trump's executive order on Muslim travel in court whether President Trump's tweets were to be considered "official statements" from the President, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that they were. President Trump's personal Twitter account @RealDonaldTrump is frequently retweeted by @POTUS, the official White House account and also his son's Twitter account @DonaldTrumpJr.
Trump Twitter quotes
Somebody said I’m the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.
- "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud."
- "It’s amazing how people can talk about me but I’m not allowed to talk about them."
- "This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bull**** has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice."
- "So many 'politically correct' fools in our country. We have to all get back to work and stop wasting time and energy on nonsense!" (August 8, 2015)
- "Notice that illegal immigrants will be given ObamaCare and free college tuition but nothing has been mentioned about our VETERANS #DemDebate" (October 13, 2015)
- "They laughed at me when I said to bomb the ISIS controlled oil fields. Now they are not laughing and doing what I said." (November 13, 2015)
- "President Obama said 'ISIL continues to shrink' in an interview just hours before the horrible attack in Paris. He is just so bad! CHANGE." (November 14, 2015)
- "Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are - some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?" (November 17, 2015)
- "Eight Syrians were just caught on the southern border trying to get into the U.S. ISIS maybe? I told you so. WE NEED A BIG & BEAUTIFUL WALL!" (November 19, 2015)
- "Hillary said that guns don't keep you safe. If she really believes that she should demand that her heavily armed bodyguards quickly disarm!" (January 3, 2016)
- "I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!" (February 20, 2016)
- "The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!" (March 12, 2016)
- "Why is it that the horrendous protesters, who scream, curse punch, shut down roads/doors during my RALLIES, are never blamed by media? SAD!" (March 20, 2016)
- "Do you all remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was. Not anymore, it is from a different world! U.S. must be vigilant and smart!" (March 22, 2016)
- "For the 1st time in American history, America’s 16,500 border patrol agents have issue[d] a presidential primary endorsement—me! Thank you." (April 1, 2016)
- "Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!" (October 16, 2016)
- "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"
- "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!" (March 31, 2017)
- “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” (May 12, 2017)
- "That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!" (June 5, 2017, while the Dept. of Justice was arguing in court that his Executive Order was not a "travel ban")
- "Fake News is at an all time high. Where is their apology to me for all of the incorrect stories???" (June 13, 2017)
During the campaign, Trump found a way to get his message out to the public without needing to go through the lens of the mainstream media, and some commentators suggested ways in how to force Trump to have to deal with the corrupt media. By a half year into his term as President, many elected officials, political aids and business leaders opposed his continue tweeting, but President Trump's use of Twitter was supported by his base.
White House staffers have found his tweets to be inconsistent with their talking points and distracting from efforts to advance the President's agenda. When Anthony Scaramucci became Trump's Director of Communications, he sought a "reset" in Trump's relationship with the media, which included predicting, "He will probably dial back some of those tweets."
On June 11, 2017, Senator Lindsey Graham was interviewed on CBS Face the Nation and said that President Trump's tweets "feeds that lynch mob [mentality in the press]. You're your own worst enemy here, Mr. President. Knock it off."
Senator John McCain was asked on NBC's Meet the Press about President Trump's tweet about the press being the "enemy of the American people." He responded, "If you want to preserve, I’m very serious now, if you want to preserve Democracy as we know it, you have to have a free, and many times adversarial press. And without it, I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started."
A controversy erupted when President Trump retweeted a story from Fox News that contained leaked classified information about satellite data regarding North Korea's missile development efforts. The White House never explained why President Trump retweeted classified infomation.
Twitter has a feature which allows people to write responses to each of President Trump's tweets. The President or his staff have blocked many users who leave unfavorable comments. In June 2016, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University called on the president to unblock Twitter users. "Your Twitter account is a designated public forum for essentially the same reasons that open city council meetings and school board meetings are," the lawyers wrote Trump.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg involved himself in politics in the 2016 presidential race. He publicly called out positions held by Donald Trump as wrong. Some Facebook employees asked if they should try to stop a Trump presidency.
Facebook has declared it will never use its product to influence how people on the platform vote.
Facebook tampered with news feeds in 2010 during a 61-million-person experiment to see how Facebook could impact the real-world voting behavior of millions of people.
Critics and comedians have appeared in YouTube clips discussing Donald Trump that regularly draw millions of views. These include Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert. Rachel Maddow, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Keith Obermann, John Oliver and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough.
The Young Turks video newscasts hosted by Cenk Uygur is a YouTube channel, which as of September 2017 had 3,431,881 subscribers. Most of their videos are very critical of President Trump.
Two videos were retweeted by Donald Trump that drew controversy. One showed him wrestling with a man whose face was blocked by a CNN logo. The Reddit user who had created the video apologized and promised to never do anything like that on social media again.
The second controversy resulted from Trump retweeting a video clip taken from the movie "Michael Moore in Trumpland." The Trump tweet states, "I agree, @MMFlint- To all Americans, I see you & I hear you. I am your voice. Vote to #DrainTheSwamp w/ me on 11/8. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pADHLsECWxY …" The clip cuts off Moore in mid-sentence, which goes on "It will feel good—for a day. You know, maybe a week. Possibly a month.” Then he adds, “Because you used the ballot as an anger management tool and now you’re f**ked.” So an anti-Trump film was excerpted to look like a pro-Trump endorsement.
Facebook has announced steps to detect fake accounts. It is also trying to police "fake news". However, their method of determining what news is "fake" relies largely on the input of several mainstream media and other liberal "fact checkers." They are also designing their system to favor MSM posts.
YouTube has added a reporting feature on each video for "spam or misleading videos". If a video is reported, it will be manually reviewed and if necessary taken down.
- Steeve, Dustin (January 17, 2017). Donald Trump’s Social Media Use Is Key To Sidelining The Press. The Federalist. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
- Feldscher, Kyle (June 4, 2017). Trump slams 'political correctness' and gun control activists after London attacks. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
- Miller, S.A. (June 6, 2017). Trump vows to continue tweeting: ‘I can get the honest and unfiltered message out’. The Washington Times. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- Quinn, Melissa (June 6, 2017). Trump: Media hates my 'honest and unfiltered' Twitter messages. Washington Examiner. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- "White House: Trump's tweets are 'official statements'", June 6, 2017. Retrieved on Septmeber 7, 2017.
- Trump, Donald J. (August 6, 2012, 1:23 pm). "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud." Tweet by @realDonaldTrump.
- Trump, Donald J. (November 13, 2012, 12:23pm). "It’s amazing how people can talk about me but I’m not allowed to talk about them." Tweet by @realDonaldTrump.
- Trump, Donald J. (January 1, 2014, 4:39pm). "This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bull**** has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice." Tweet by @realDonaldTrump.
- Greenwood, Mark (February 17, 2017). Trump tweets: The media is the 'enemy of the American people'. The Hill. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- MSM shouldn’t cover Trump's tweets, forcing him to rely on media to communicate – CNN anchor. RT. December 28, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- Miller, S.A. (June 6, 2017). Trump supporters urge him to keep tweeting and taking on the establishment. Washington Times. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- "White House Staff React in Real-Time as Trump Tweets: ‘Jesus’", Daily Beast, May 12, 2017. Retrieved on September 7, 2017.
- "Donald Trump will 'dial back' his Twitter use, says Anthony Scaramucci", July 24, 2017. Retrieved on September 7, 2017.
- ""You're your own worst enemy here, Mr. President," Graham tells Trump", CBS News, June 11, 2017. Retrieved on June 15, 2017.
- "‘That’s how dictators get started’: John McCain rebukes Trump tweet", February 18, 2017. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2017.
- http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/trump-retweets-story-with-classified-information-1019806787789 Retrieved Sept 7, 2017
- "Trump retweets Fox News story containing classified info", August 8, 2017.
- Larson, Selena. "Trump blocking Twitter critics raises First Amendment concerns", June 6, 2017. Retrieved on September 7, 2017.
- "An Update On Information Operations On Facebook", September 6, 2017. Retrieved on September 7, 2017.
- "Facebook says it sold ads to Russian 'troll farm' during 2016 campaign", September 7, 2017. Retrieved on September 7, 2017.
- Facebook Employees Asked Mark Zuckerberg If They Should Try to Stop a Donald Trump Presidency, Gizmodo, April 15, 2016
- Facebook Says it Doesn't Try to Influence How People Vote, Gizmodo, April 15, 2016
- A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization
- "CNN-Trump wrestling video leads to Twitter claims of blackmail", Indianapolis Star, July 5, 2017. Retrieved on Sept 6, 2017.
- https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/791648893725450240 (October 27, 2016)
- "Why Michael Moore’s Trumpland Is Going Viral With Conservatives", Fortune, October 26, 2016. Retrieved on September 6, 2017.
- "Team Trump tries to use Michael Moore’s anti-Trump film as an endorsement", October 28,2016. Retrieved on September 6, 2017.
- "Trump tweets agreement with Michael Moore", The Hill, October 27, 2017. Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2017.
- Improvements in protecting the integrity of activity on Facebook (April 13, 2017). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2017.
- Working to Stop Misinformation and False News (April 6, 2017). Retrieved on Sept. 7, 2017.
- http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-40812697 Retrieved September 8, 2017
- https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2017/jan/26/facebook-is-trying-to-tackle-fake-news-but-what-should-we-do Retrieved September 8, 2017