There is very little, if anything, to dislike about President Trump’s performance in office thus far. If there is any one thing that brings criticism- and even that is debatable- is it his propensity to hit Twitter too much. Part of me believes that Trump deliberately sometimes tweets out something “controversial,” that, in the final analysis, is not all that controversial. Trump is not your typical politician because he is not a politician. He does not feel confined, rightly, by the constraints of political niceties and saying the politically correct thing. That does not make him a racist, misogynist, sexist, Islamophobic, or any of the other labels thrown his way by #TheResistance or the #NeverTrump (but I repeat myself) contingent out there. In fact, it is part and parcel of Trump and partly the reason for his appeal. It is, dare I say, refreshing in a President.
But Trump has gone to war with Twitter vowing they will not stifle free speech after he tweeted out his reservations about mail-in voting and potential fraud. This is an area of contention, but even a cursory look at its possibility reveals that it is rife with at least a greater potential for fraud and a subject better left for another time and diary entry. What upset Trump was Twitter flagging the tweet with a fact-check on the claims of potential fraud.
Some of Trump’s tweets, on first view, are occasionally the stuff of Looney Toons. And although his predecessor, Barack Obama, may have had more Twitter followers, it was the usual dull stuff one came to expect from Presidents. Trump, on the other hand, is a bigger box office draw for Twitter. To wit, did Obama have his own WikiPedia page dedicated to his tweets? Trump’s tweets have generated more conversations and media teeth-gnashing than most people get sleep. The fact is the money counters at Twitter rub their hands in glee every time Trump tweets something in an early morning/late night rant.
This not the scripted tweets of Obama. It makes thing unpredictable and exciting. Trump learned a lot about human behavior by first becoming a reality TV star. Because Trump’s tweets are money-makers for Twitter and Twitter is, after all, a business, they should tread lightly here. Imagine if Trump got so upset at Twitter that he took his rants to another platform like Facebook or Instagram. He could outside the box and sign up with Gab. According to most analysis out there, Trump has at least 55 million Twitter followers, although Trump claims it is in the 80 million range. Let’s put it somewhere in the middle- about 67 million. Imagine if they all left Twitter and went somewhere else. Imagine the hit to Twitter’s bottom line. In the aftermath of his spat with Twitter, even the Washington Post noted that Trump gained over 100,00 NEW followers.
An even more intriguing possibility is that, fancying himself a business entrepreneur, what if Trump created a whole new social media platform where HE made up the rules. Likely, it would be an ad hoc operation which would make it even more exciting, refreshing, unpredictable, and entertaining. It is easy to see Twitter’s stock taking a hit. Further, the ratio of followers to followed- 67 million to 43 (Trump claims to follow 43 people on Twitter) can not be overlooked. Trump is the only person in the world who get away with such a thing and even putting up a pay wall, although I would advise against that. After all, Twitter is probably the greatest free advertising tool out there.
If Trump were to abandon Twitter in favor of another social media platform, or his own of his own creation, one can rest assure he would have at least 55 million followers before you could say “Kanye West.” Twitter likes to say that no one’s Twitter account drives their growth and profits. This writer disagrees 100%.
Twitter has stated that they do not intend to censor or go so far as to ban Trump from Twitter claiming that doing so to the leader of the free world would “hide important information people should be able to see and debate.” In the case of Trump, we may have to take them at their word, although they did censor the tweets of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s home brew Covid-19 cure, so there is that.
With an important election looming, who is to say Twitter will not further clamp down on Trump? If they were to escalate the situation, Trump has the social media presence to eat them alive.
No man may be an island, and no one person may drive Twitter’s growth and profits, but Trump is the President of the United States and Twitter’s biggest box office star. Trump is, at he end of the day, Twitter’s biggest financial fish and more important than a little blue bird.