It’s another chapter in President Trump’s love-hate relationship with Twitter. In the wake of the social media company’s decision to fact-check his tweets for the first time, Trump responded with a series of threats and jibes against the company.
Trump claims Twitter – arguably his preferred platform for communication – is stifling free speech after it prompted readers of two of his tweets to check facts on his claims. The president promised “Big action” against the company.
Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
The initial tweets said that mail-in ballots are “substantially fraudulent,” a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.
It’s far from the first time the president has mentioned Twitter (TWTR) and also not the first time he has threatened it.
In fact, according to trumptwitterarchive.com, the president has directly mentioned the company almost 200 times on the platform itself since he began his account in 2009.
As they say, there’s always a tweet. Here’s some notable mentions of the company over the years.
I love Twitter…. it’s like owning your own newspaper— without the losses.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2012
Accusations that the ‘Radical Left is in total command & control’
In recent years, Trump has most often brought up the company to complain about what he sees as conservative bias. In 2019, he held a “social media summit” to talk about bias.
Earlier this month, in a typical tweet, he said that he wants to “remedy this illegal situation.”
The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events. Thank you Michelle! https://t.co/ZQfcfD3Hk9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
Trump has threatened legal action against the company multiple times in spite of little evidence of any sort of systemic bias. He often mentions the forces he sees allied against him, like so-called “shadow banning” of his political allies.
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
He also tweeted in support of a range of right-wing figures who had their accounts frozen from an illegal immigration activist to the actor James Woods. Woods was banned after tweeting a hoax meme that encouraged men not to vote.
Even while decrying when his allies have their accounts frozen, he’s pushed for the banning of his perceived opponents.
When will the Radical Left Wing Media apologize to me for knowingly getting the Russia Collusion Delusion story so wrong? The real story is about to happen! Why is @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @CNN, @MSNBC allowed to be on Twitter & Facebook. Much of what they do is FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2019
Trump’s tone has veered in a positive direction in response to personal outreach from the company. In 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey traveled to Washington to discuss the issue of supposed anti-conservative bias. The trip earned a friendly tweet in response.
It was a similar pattern during the 2016 campaign. Then-candidate Trump was invited to participate in a video Q&A at Twitter’s New York headquarters. He discussed topics from Israel to Tony Romo and apparently enjoyed the appearance enough to tweet positive mentions.
‘Everybody’s talking about my doing twitter’
Trump’s use of the platform has been well documented as a key ingredient – perhaps the key ingredient – in his political rise. One analyst famously even said in 2017 that the account was worth $2 billion to Twitter’s valuation.
That symbiotic relationship was often reflected in Trump’s tweets from 2016 and earlier. Many of the mentions praised his own use of the platform.
He also repeatedly teased a presidential bid before actually getting in the race.
After he signed up for his account, Trump mulled a run in 2012 before ultimately deciding against it. He then repeatedly teased a run for the next four years, which very few political observers took seriously at the time.
“@Dietztaa_9: If Donald Trump ran for president, he’d have my vote based on his Twitter account alone”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2014
One bump in the road was in 2013 when Trump’s account was apparently hacked and tweeted out a lyric by rapper Lil Wayne. Trump responded by saying Twitter would be “irrelevant” without better security.
But one of the most significant legacies of those early years was the chance – as far back as 2012 – to build his follower count and workshop what would become his iconic slogan.
As of Wednesday, the president’s follower count stands at 80.3 million, and his slogan is, of course “Make America Great Again.”
Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.
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