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28 May, 2020 10:19

Twitter needs Trump more than Trump needs Twitter: Why @realDonaldTrump should do a Joe Rogan to punish the social media giant

Twitter needs Trump more than Trump needs Twitter: Why @realDonaldTrump should do a Joe Rogan to punish the social media giant

After they stuck ‘fact-check’ warnings on two of his posts, the US president has vowed he won’t allow Twitter to stifle free speech. But instead of just regulating them, he should really hurt them by defecting to another platform

Joe Biden was bang on the money when he recently christened Donald Trump with the nickname “President Tweety.” The president’s social media outpourings might be Looney Tunes stuff on many an occasion, but – even though the far duller Barack Obama might have more followers – the current US commander-in-chief is the biggest box office draw for Twitter.

After less than four years in the Oval Office, ‘the Donald’ – who even has a Wikipedia page dedicated to his Twitter obsession – has been the cause of more social media firestorms than most normal folk have had hot dinners.

Every time he tweets something completely outrageous, while munching on a McDonald’s McMuffin in the morning, or a Big Mac or Fillet-o-Fish at night, it’s easy to imagine the top Twitter shareholders rubbing their hands in glee as they watch their stock skyrocket on the CNBC ticker.

As former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer once agreed during an hour-long conversation I had with him in 2018, “A tweet from Donald Trump is worth a lot.”

Also on rt.com Trump threatens to SHUT DOWN social media after spat with Twitter over mail-in voting criticism

It’s a no-brainer, too. We’re talking here about a US president whose social media interaction is unscripted, which makes it ‘unpredictable’ and exciting stuff just like reality TV – but with more bang for your buck, because it’s the actual so-called leader of the free world without a friggin’ self-censor switch.

“Most politicians would ask you to draft a tweet, or to draft a statement, or a message. And then say, ‘What do you think of this? Let’s talk about it.’ He just did it. And it was a different dynamic than I was ever used to,” Spicer told me, adding: “He gets up, he tweets – and people are used to that becoming part of the dialogue.”

Trump’s spat with Twitter this week has got me thinking: what if – in a worst-case nightmare scenario for the social media giant – Trump becomes royally p****d off with them and decides to jump ship to a rival like Instagram or Facebook?

Just like Joe Rogan getting fed up with YouTube’s censorship and signing with Spotify, should Trump take to another platform with a vengeance – perhaps something really alternative, like Gab – that platform would immediately gain a massive following and legitimacy at the Twitter brand’s expense.

Or, better still – seeing as Trump likes to portray himself as a brilliant entrepreneur – what if he went one step further and created his own social media platform that allowed him to make up his own rules (literally as he went along)?

In such a scenario, it’s easy to imagine Twitter’s stock plummeting. And they would lose a vast amount of subscribers to whichever social site Trump might choose next – probably on a whim too, knowing him. “After all,” as Trump might eloquently put it himself, “80.3million followers is… well, a helluva lot of followers – especially when you’re only following 43 people yourself.” (@realDonaldTrump, if you’re reading this, please do me a massive favour and make me number 44.)

It would unquestionably be a mega success if Trump created his own social networking site, because with just a few phone calls – or better still, a few tweets – he could have others like Kanye West and his missus joining him.

Regardless of what you think of the dude, Trump is probably the only celebrity in the world whose daily tweets people would go as far as coughing up cash to read if he put up a paywall. (Again, if he’s reading this himself, I’d strongly advise against charging, because Twitter is the ultimate free advertising tool.)

Also on rt.com Twitter & media know this isn’t about mail-in ballots or fraud, but about who gets to define truth; Trump does too

But if the maverick US president did make a radical switch to another social media platform, I’d put money on it quickly disproving Twitter’s claim that “no one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth,” because the truth is Trump is a much bigger fish than the little blue bird.

And if it was to happen, Twitter would only have themselves to blame here. They’re on thin ice with him as it is already, and I reckon they’ve now put themselves on the president’s mental DEFCON 2 alert on Wednesday by sticking their ‘fact-check’ warning on two of his election posts.

Under his two tweets claiming that postal voting is ”fraudulent,” in which he predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” the social media giant stuck the message “get the facts about mail-in ballots,” with a link taking users to a Twitter movement page to check the actual facts and figures.

Trump clearly isn’t happy with being labelled as someone who apparently spreads ‘fake news’, and in – what else? –  a Twitter outburst aimed at the social media giant he warned: “...Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”

The whole argument around free speech is probably best left for another day, because I could fill up an entire column on why I feel Trump shouldn’t be allowed to spout some of his BS. Like when he doubled down the other day on his murder conspiracy theory claim about a TV host named Joe Scarborough allegedly murdering a woman named Lori Klausutis – even if there’s witnesses saying he was in a different state at the time of death.

The episode understandably upset her widower, Timothy Klausutis, and I can understand why he asked Twitter to remove Trump’s claim. I feel the social media giant was in the wrong not to comply with his request – free speech or no free speech.

But it seems they would never dare to censor or – God forbid – ban someone like Trump, because they argue that “blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”

That said, Twitter did censor Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro's homebrew Covid cures – so they’ve clearly got different sets of unwritten rules, depending on which country you just happen to be in charge of.

Also on rt.com ‘Justice for Carolyn’: Resistance claims Trump KILLED INTERN, figuring fake news will force Twitter to nuke his Morning Joe tweets

And with a US presidential election in the offing, who’s to say they won’t start clamping down more on Trump, following their move against him on Wednesday?

But it would be very unwise, because the last thing you want to do is to have Trump looking like one of those angry emotion characters from Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’, about to blow a gasket.

If Trump is of the philosophy that“one bad hamburger” would make him rethink his eating habits, who's to say what he might do if he can’t stomach whatever Twitter might try to ram down his throat next? Because he could eat them alive if he really put his mind to it, believe you me.

They need to tread very carefully, because – while it might be true that no man is an island – ‘the Donald’ is still the US president and, more importantly, he’s still Twitter’s star player.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.