20.01.2017 Donald Trump: the Twitter President?

Later today Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America in a ceremony in Washington DC.

It’s fair to say Mr Trump is a divisive figure; despite having won the election on a wave of populist support he has managed to alienate large sections of the American electorate with his provocative language and contentious policies.

Many of his most controversial announcements and reactions have come through the medium of Twitter.

Before he even became a presidential candidate, Mr Trump had been an enthusiastic tweeter for a number of years.

But he stepped up the tweeting during the campaign, bypassing traditional media outlets and using twitter to announce policies, make pledges and attack his critics.

shutterstock_416111896Credit: txking /Shutterstock.com

Since winning the election Mr Trump has shown no sign of stepping back from Twitter and has taken to the platform on an almost daily basis.

It was once said that Barack Obama ran the first social media campaign back in 2008, using the emerging platforms to gain support and get people engaged in his efforts to win the Deomcratic nomination and later, presidency.

During his eight years in office Mr Obama continued to engage through Twitter, mainly using the social network to promote legislation and support for his policies.

Members of the president’s team sent the majority of those tweets, though occasionally Mr Obama would tweet personally.

Mr Trump, however, is a different beast altogether. Upon his election many people expected ‘The Donald’ to tone down the rhetoric and the personal attacks but in fact it seems the opposite is true.

shutterstock_353116961Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

In recent weeks we have seen the president-elect hit out at the entertainment industry, including movie star Meryl Streep and comedy show Saturday Night Live, the mainstream media, including CNN and NBC (which he has denounced as FAKE NEWS), his political opponents, including veteran civil rights campaigner John Lewis and the entire US intelligence community.

Any hope that the new president might act more dignified and, well, presidential after his victory has dissolved into the Twittersphere.

Given the demands of the job we are likely to see fewer tweets from Mr Trump during his term in office and more from his team, but we can be certain that the man himself will still use the platform when he feels the urge the promote, defend and attack.

Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Mr Trump has used Twitter in the way he has. After all he is not a politician in the traditional sense but rather a straight-talking, at times blunt, businessman. That’s how he ran his campaign and that’s how he sold himself to the American people. If he suddenly became another typical politician he would be doing a disservice to the people who elected him.

Might this be the start of a phenomenon? Could we see other politicians dropping their polished personas on social media and speaking their minds instead of in 140-character sound bites?

Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting next four years.

Cover image by Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons