Donald Trump has taken advantage of social networks in his favor like no other American president and has used them as a springboard to promote political changes, to attack his critics, as well as to vent his self-affirmation. "He needs to tweet just like we need to eat," said Kellyanne Conway, a White House adviser.
Incidentally, he has given credibility to unpleasant Twitter accounts with his habit of retweeting posts that get their attention, apparently without considering who is behind them or what their motives are.
In three articles, The New York Times analyzed Trump's publications, examined the accounts he follows and interviewed dozens of government officials, legislators, Twitter executives and ordinary US citizens who have been involved in their tweets. Below, we present a summary of our findings.RELATED
Attack, attack, attack, with one notable exception
Almost half of the president's more than 11,000 tweets are attacks, against everything and everyone, from the investigation into Russia to the Federal Reserve, even black football players and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. However, in more than 2000 tweets, Trump has only praised one person: himself.
The presidency staff wanted their tweets to be 15 minutes late
This newspaper learned that at the beginning of Trump's presidency, a group of high-level advisors debated proposing Twitter to impose a 15-minute delay on the US president's account, similar to the five-second lag system used to avoid rude things used by television networks. However, they abandoned the idea immediately after recognizing the political risk if that proposal leaked to the press or their boss.
Foreign intelligence services try to get your attention
Twitter accounts linked to propaganda operations sponsored by the governments of China, Iran and Russia have directed thousands of publications to Trump. Frequently, the accounts promoted conspiracy theories or supported Trump's policies. One said: "We want it, Mr. President!" Trump retweeted her.
Trump's retweets have given extremists momentum
The US president has retweeted at least 145 unverified accounts that promote conspiracy or extremist content, including more than a score that have been suspended by Twitter. Among them are those of white nationalists, intolerant users who are against Muslims, followers of QAnon, a conspiracy theory related to satanic pedophiles and the "Deep State" labeled by the FBI as a possible national terrorist threat.
He does not follow his followers
Some of the questionable material that Trump publishes on his networks originates from the continuous flow of tweets, around a thousand per minute, that label him. However, they also come from the small number of accounts – 47 currently, mostly belonging to family members, celebrities, Fox News drivers or Republican politicians – whom Trump is following and that are part of his latest curated news. Some of those people, in turn, follow Twitter accounts that promote QAnon, manifest anti-Muslim attitudes or defend positions of white nationalism.
You may never see him tweet in public
This is because he doesn't like to put on the reading glasses he needs to see the screen of his iPhone. Instead, the president dictates tweets to Dan Scavino, the social media director of the White House. Sometimes, Scavino prints suggestions of tweets in a large font for Trump to approve.
Mornings are for tweeting
Trump's habit of tweeting peaks at the beginning of the day, when he is in the White House residence, often while watching Fox News and checking his mentions on Twitter. Then, it turns the platform into something that an adviser called: "the weapon of mass destruction par excellence." Almost half of their “attack tweets” have been sent between 6 and 10 in the morning, a time that, for the most part, passes without the presence of their advisors.
We read each and every one of the president's tweets
The president has boasted 183 times about the size of the crowds he summons or the applause he receives at his events; has attacked 570 times migrants; He has praised dictators 132 times and on 36 occasions he described the news media as the "enemies of the people." On 16 occasions, Trump referred to himself as "the favorite president" of all.
Twitter is not real life
According to data from YouGov, which conducts surveys on all of the president's tweets, some of the issues that Trump receives the most "likes" and that are retweeted in a massive way – attacks on the NFL, publications on the investigation of the special prosecutor, unfounded accusations of widespread electoral fraud — they don't do well in polls among the general public.
Mike McIntire is a reporter for the Times research unit. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his reports on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections and has written in depth about campaign financing, armed violence and corruption in university sports. @mmcintire
Nicholas Confessore is a political journalist and researcher based in New York and a contributor to the Times Magazine. Write about the intersection of wealth, power and influence in Washington and beyond. He joined the Times in 2004.