Twitter, the social media forum, used extensively by Donald Trump for years, was one of his most effective tools during his run for the Presidency in the primaries and in the general election. As a private company, Titter has the right to revoke Twitter accounts of those people they feel have violated their guidelines. They have exercised this right, sometimes with considerable controversy, with a number of accounts. The First Amendment right to freedom of speech does not apply in this particular forum.
Since the November 8th election, Donald Trump has weaponized Twitter. His personal vendettas against cable news, particularly CNN, are notable. Trump is not content with tweeting one message, he usually continues to attack, then attacks again. If any person or any group offers the slightest bit of criticism, he will rant incessantly. He just can’t let go. He has demonstrated this time and again, from the cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton to his most recent target, the head of the union at Carrier. As a private citizen, this would not be a problem. But this man will most likely be the next President of the United States.
His tweets are not just a venue for Trump to vent his feelings. They can, and have, had real consequences. Just this week he tweeted that the order for the new Air Force One planes from Boeing should be canceled. This comment caused Boeing stock values to tank on the stock market. This not only caused the company to lose millions, perhaps billions of dollars, but it also adversely affected innumerable retirees who had money invested in the stock to suffer personal losses as well.
Trump does not hesitate to call out individuals by name on Twitter either. From Rosie O’Dell to his most recent target Chuck Jones, the head of Union 1999. His attacks on Rosie were personal and vindictive. Unfortunately, his attacks on Chuck Jones were the same. Mr. Jones had the temerity to say, on national television, that Trump was “lying out of his a**” about the deal Trump had struck with the company. And now Mr. Jones and his family have been receiving death threats. Words, whether written or spoken, have consequences, especially when they are the words of the President-elect of the United States. Either Trump is unaware of this, or he simply doesn’t care. All the evidence points to the latter. The effects of this can prove chilling to a free and open press, as well as the right to freedom of speech by individuals that the President of the United States does not like.
As a result of these, and many other concerns, calls have been issued for Twitter to delete Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account @realDonaldTrump. This is a short-time solution to a long-time problem. In little over a month, Donald Trump will have a new Twitter account @POTUS. Hillary Clinton warned during the campaign “How can you trust the nuclear codes to a man who can be baited by a tweet?” That is a real concern that cannot be cured by deleting his Twitter account. The problem is not Twitter, but the temperament of a man who cannot tolerate any criticism; one who’s policy positions are based on who spoke with him last. As former president Jimmy Carter said, Trump is “malleable.”
There is an old adage “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” The American people have the right to know what head of our country is thinking. But they also need to hold him accountable for every idiotic remark he makes. Congress needs to hold his feet to the fire on every comment he makes that endangers our country. And the Supreme Court needs to be aware of any threats he makes to our Constitution.
Trump will continue to act and think the way he does whether he has access to social media or not. Better that we should know and be able to prepare than be kept in the dark.