Opinion: Trump and Twitter, Together Forever - PressFrom - US
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OpinionTrump and Twitter, Together Forever

19:40  10 july  2019
19:40  10 july  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Trump Administration Drops Bid To Put Citizenship Question On 2020 Census

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Trump and Twitter, Together Forever© Illustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photograph by Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

So it’s official: If he gets to dish it out, he has to take it too. At least for now.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that President Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter. The decision upholds a 2018 district court ruling that said the president had tried to do an end run around the First Amendment in blocking critics, noting that public officials could not turn off people “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”

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Karma is not just analog.

The latest ruling will be on the top of the agenda this week at a White House social-media conference (Twitter and Facebook have not been invited, making the gathering pointless). The event will be packed with conservatives who think, like Mr. Trump, that they are being discriminated against by the social media giants — with no substantial evidence to support this claim.

In fact, those who complain most loudly about being sidelined on social media never seem to stop their noisy tweeting. Mr. Trump is the perfect example: He’s a 24/7 gusher of bilious ALL CAPS tweeting that never runs dry. And it never will: The court ruling Tuesday cements the marriage of Mr. Trump and Twitter in perpetuity.

Twitter is now less likely than ever to throw Mr. Trump — the most egregious breaker of its rules, its troll extraordinaire — off its platform. Still, it’s worth thinking about what would happen if Mr. Trump’s prime vehicle for spewing, and for governing, was removed from his PR toolbox.

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What would he replace it with? What would he do in the wee hours of the morning? How would he even govern?

A ban from Twitter would put a crimp into the operation of his administration, given he uses his @realdonaldtrump handle, with his nearly 62 million followers, to announce his frequent staff changes, communicate with foreign leaders and attempt to set policy.

The latest example — among so many — was the kerfuffle last week at the Justice Department that followed another Trump Twitter outburst. The Supreme Court last month rejected the Commerce Department’s rationale for including a citizenship question in the census, and the administration settled on abandoning plans for adding the question.

Then, with the deadline to print census forms past, Mr. Trump surprised his own administration officials with a tweet reversing course.

A bewildered Justice Department lawyer tried his best to explain the bizarre situation to the judge presiding over the case: “The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the president’s position on this issue.” The lawyer added, “I am doing my absolute best to figure out what is going on.”

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So are the rest of us.

No less important has been Mr. Trump’s use of the medium for politics. He transformed presidential campaigning by using Twitter to invigorate his base and to infuriate his detractors. And also, of course, for self-aggrandizement on a huge scale.

His self-congratulations are awkward, mostly because of the neon display of his desperation to be loved. While this bothers many people, I say, so what? Everyone needs a hug, even if it is a digital one, and Mr. Trump apparently needs more hugs than anyone else.

But attacks are also a critical part of his repertoire. While the soccer star and Twitter ninja Megan Rapinoe expertly skewered him last week on the field and online (she’s still not going to the White House!), the ever increasing number of Mr. Trump’s Twitter targets is troubling.

It’s here that Mr. Trump has violated Twitter’s terms of service many times, either by leveling false and hateful statements or with other kinds of incitement, the kind of which have gotten plenty of others kicked off right away. His attacks on the press, women and immigrants are most disturbing.

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But with nearly blanket immunity extended by the company — because his tweets are “newsworthy” — Mr. Trump’s abuse of the platform goes on.

Many employees at Twitter have told me there is a red line that Mr. Trump could cross that would sink him — though they don’t say what it is. But until then, the company wants to provide a venue for the president’s eruptions, no matter how bad they are.

Fair enough, but what if tomorrow, Twitter's chief executive, Jack Dorsey, were to tell Mr. Trump to get lost?

Obviously, Mr. Trump would still have his friends at Fox News to lean on, but he would struggle to find a medium with the same hot pop of Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit do not have the kind of amplification that Twitter provides.

That’s because Twitter remains the only real-time battlefield where the fight between the left and the right, between the media and the media baiters, the red-hatters and red-haters, the conspiracy theorists and those who seek to fight lies with facts is being waged.

Twitter might be one of the smaller social media sites, but it is exactly where the American power conversation is taking place — every ugly, nasty and often times, hysterical, bit of it.

And the court ruling on Tuesday binds the whole angry lot together even more, proving what Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in his 1944 play, “No Exit,” updated for the digital age.

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Hell is other tweeters.

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