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Trump and Twitter Need Each Other
US President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump and Twitter Need Each Other

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 5

[US President Donald] Trump’s ascendance to power represents social and political processes that have been unfolding in America for over two centuries. The man has no history in policymaking, no appreciation of political norms and no respect for democratic institutions. His supporters are made up of lower-middle-class Americans who are closely tied to the Republican Party. In fewer than four years in office, Trump made over 18,000 lies on public record. Needless to say, he does not resemble any of the 44 presidents who preceded him. His most recent public brawl has been with Twitter, a social media platform that has been fundamental to his campaign. Most of his decisions, ideas and world-views are published through it, and from there disseminated to the rest of the world. Trump’s daily tweets have rendered Twitter one of the most important technological platforms of our time. But last week, Twitter marked two of Trump’s posts related to voter fraud as “unreliable” news sources. Retaliation came only a few short hours later when Trump announced his plan to remove protections from social media platforms in order to hold them liable for the content their users post. The US president cannot legally change the code of conduct pertaining to social media platforms, as this action requires approval from Congress or the Federal Communications Commission. The only thing he can do is encourage officials who have executive powers to do what he wants. However, any move of this sort will likely lead to the collapse of social media companies. Trump understands the importance of Twitter to his continued political success. More than 80 million users follow him on Twitter, allowing him to bypass traditional media channels and communicate with the public openly and freely. Trump without Twitter would become an ineffective politician, and Twitter without Trump’s support could go bankrupt. Therefore, at least for now, the two warring parties will have to lay their weapons down and come to implicit understandings about the way forward. Otherwise, both of them will lose this war. – Badr Bin Saud (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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