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Tweeter-in-chief

Earlier this week, Editorial Board covered Donald Trump’s personal and public assault on professional athletes and the entire National Football League for their stance on protesting during the national anthem. The bulk of this public tirade took the form of virtual attacks sent from his personal Twitter. In fact, the account has been both a battleground for numerous outlandish statements as well as a consistent leading headline in international news ever since he announced his candidacy for the White House. Twitter announcements have become such a common element of any major policy decision that it’s now relatively routine for Americans to simply check his latest online outbursts in order to see the next scandal or controversy developing. However, despite how familiar it may now seem this far into the administration, there’s an imperative to critically examine how Trump’s reckless social media use doubles as a platform for political declarations.

After the election, Donald Trump quickly converted his personal Twitter account into an official means of disseminating White House information and updates. He did not, however, convert the content of his Twitter to reflect the tact, competence or dignity that an official White House social media outlet should have. Scrolling down the page, viewers will find Trump retweeting insensitive memes, flinging insults and tweeting weighty policy decisions all side by side. Trump’s tweets dilute the integrity of his office, blurring the line between the unfiltered opinions of a reality tv star and what should be expected rhetoric from the leader of a politically powerful nation. It’s clear that the tweets bypass proper advising channels, and have therefore become great liabilities not only for those in his administration, but also for the citizens of this country.

Even though he wields the power with little regard to consequences, there’s no debating that Trump’s tweets hold much more importance than 140 characters can bear. His tweets have become the main method of communication with those inside the United States as well as international leaders. These short, often misspelled and poorly punctuated messages to the world outside of the oval office even have the power to provoke warfare. The world continues to watch in horror and fear as the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, spars with the president in a war of words spurred further by offhanded comments that the small nation “won’t be around much longer”. These tweets don’t only paint Donald Trump as an impulsive caricature of a man, they also put millions of Americans and North Koreans at risk.

No one is contesting that Twitter can have democratizing effects in terms of information access and is an incredible tool for global communication. There’s even a case to be made that it also has sizable benefits concerning efforts to more efficiently connect leaders and policymakers to their constituents. However, Twitter, along with other forms of social media, have proven dangerous and potentially deadly in the hands of Trump. Restrictions on his ability to fire off threats and personal attacks are long overdue. His staff and other members of his administration should prioritize reigning in their president with an itchy Twitter finger now, before it’s too late.

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