Ever since he began campaigning, U.S. President Donald Trump’s preferred method of communication with the public has been his controversial Twitter account. All throughout his campaign, his tweets occupied a large part of daily media coverage, causing equal parts uproar and enthusiastic support.
However, the model of public communication expected of him has now changed. The role of the president and the responsibilities that come with that role demand a different level of formality and neutrality than what President Trump is used to. The president’s office also brings with it a sense of dignity and importance that Trump’s Twitter often seems to violate.
A private account gives Trump fast and easy access to a platform that allows him to say whatever is on his mind unchecked. His tweeted outbursts about trivial matters like an SNL impression make him seem more like a disgruntled teenager than POTUS. His tweets deeming media companies who are critical of his behavior “fake news” make it obvious that he will disparage anyone who goes against him in the 140-character limit. Tweets like these alienate almost half of the country, creating division rather than unity.
Trump also uses Twitter to put forward his opinion on or to answer to important news stories. This serves to give incorrect impressions to his followers; his 140 character tweets cannot possibly represent a situation accurately. He also tweets accusations left and right, without any evidence; 140 characters allow him to spew outlandish allegations without having to substantiate his claims. He alleged that intelligence agencies were illegally giving out information to the media, but provided no further evidence or support for this claim.
Trump’s use of Twitter in this way was a useful campaign tactic. Now that he is president, however, it is dangerous.
Trump’s applause for all who support him (Fox News “is great,” says one of his tweets), and immediate disparagement for every critique is more an indication of a dictator than a fair president. Such allegations against the media, government agencies and public figures sound more like something made up by a conspiracy theorist rather than the rational ideas of a president.
With a title as powerful as that, a person’s personal opinions have the danger of becoming public belief, and taking offense at trivial things can cause serious public anger. The role of president dictates that personal matters must take a backseat for the benefit of the whole country, an implication that Trump’s Twitter proves he does not understand. Trump does not seem to comprehend the responsibilities that come with the title he holds, and continues to misuse the reach that comes with it.
One can see a clear difference between the official @POTUS Twitter and Trump’s personal one. The official account paints a very different picture of Trump’s voice; it’s everything you would expect a president’s account to be, and is clearly run and checked by his staff.
Trump’s use of Twitter in this way not only tarnishes the office he holds, but also misleads the supporters who believe him, and creates unnecessary tension around unproven claims. This creates an image that is not suitable for a U.S. president, both for his constituents and the citizens of the world.