It's New Territory For Twitter

Jul 28, 2017

I thought I used to understand Twitter. But now, after Donald Trump, everything is in disarray. When Trump tweets, is it policy or just an opinion? No one knows.

On the one hand, the courts appear to be interpreting statements about a “travel ban” as a matter of policy. But does this mean that everything Trump tweets is to be construed as an official proclamation worthy of preservation in the national archives?

And would this apply to everything, including covfefe?

On the other hand, administration officials are busy trying to draw a distinction between the personal opinions of the man and the official statements issued by the office. But where does the one end and the other begin?

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Trump maintains two accounts @POTUS and @realDonaldTrump. Although this gives the appearance of separation between the office of the president and the individual who currently occupies the office, the two accounts fail to maintain the distinction and often retweet each other.

So how are we to make sense of this? When Trump tweets, who is actually talking? Is it an official statement from the president, or is it just a personal opinion issued by another citizen who has the same First Amendment rights as you and I?

This is brand new territory, and the problem is that the rules of the game have yet to be written. No matter how it gets sorted out, this could be the lasting legacy of the Trump presidency.

I’m David Gunkel, and that’s my perspective.