When it comes to Trump’s tweets, one 140 characters tirade, outrageous claim, or amateur gaffe can dominate the news cycle for days. In just the most recent example, the deletion of his tweet calling it “an honor” to have met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was covered by every major news outlet imaginable. Except, according to a sophisticated machine learning algorithm, it’s almost impossible that Trump actually wrote it. In fact, it looks like lots of “his” best-known twitter flubs were actually written by his staff.
Machine Learning and the Did Trump Tweet It? archive
DidTrumpTweetIt.com is an archive of over 31,000 @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS tweets, including the probability of whether Trump himself actually wrote each one. This is calculated using machine learning algorithms, which were trained to classify the author of tweets based on their vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and tone. As explained in much more detail here, validation tests show the classification algorithm to be accurate almost 99% of the time.
It is well known that many of Trump’s posts are quickly deleted, so often in fact that Congress warned the White House that they could be in violation of the Presidential Records Act. Commentators have generally blamed Trump for misspellings and mistakes that are quickly taken down and revised. The DidTrumpTweetIt archive provides the chance to test that, since its database is updated often enough to capture the text of most tweets before they can be deleted.
The honor of hosting Mahmoud Abbas
On May 3, @realDonaldTrump posted that it was “An honor to host President Mahmoud Abbas at the WH today. Hopefully something terrific could come out it between the Palestinians and Israel.” By the next morning, the tweet had been taken down, and as we noted above, everyone noticed.
There is a blunder in the text – it should read “…come out of it between…” – but is that why it was deleted? It may also have had to come down, under political pressure for being too complementary of Palestinian leadership (that must have ruffled a lot of feathers in Israel). The media almost universally report the deletion as “Trump removes tweet,” and they have every reason to make that assumption, given that he posted it using his personal account.
However, according to DidTrumpTweetIt, there is only a 2.7% probability that he actually wrote it. Looks like one of his staff is to blame.
It doesn’t stop there.
Four mis-spellings in a row
On March 3, as the chatter over his administration’s ties to Russia ceased to abate, Trump demanded Congress investigate his allegations that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi also had nefarious Russian ties. Except, it didn’t go as planned.
The first try: “I hear by demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it.”
The second try: “I hearby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it.”
Third time‘s a charm? “I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it.”
Nope. Take four.
I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it. https://t.co/ZLTxCuY9qU
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 3, 2017
More infamous deletions
As the House prepared to vote again on the AHCA, Trump turned up the rhetoric on how wonderful it would be, and how utterly dead Obamacare already is. One of those tweets was
— President Trump (@POTUS) May 5, 2017
It was a quick fix to the first attempt, “#ACHA will help ALL, incl those in IA who will lose coverage if Medica leaves. It’s time to fix this broken system! https://t.co/qHpqEo8WAR”. The chance that Trump wrote it is just 1.1%.
Another infamous blunder was when China grabbed a Navy research drone in December 2016.
China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2016
The original text was all too fitting:
Talk about a Freudian slip. And the likelihood that Trump wrote this? 39.8%. Looks like one of his staff members thought he was unpresidented too.
Remember, Trump’s staff are “the best people.”
At the time of writing this report, there are 47 deleted tweets in the archive (it only started saving them in real-time around the inauguration). Of these, only 13 were likely to have been written by Trump himself. That means that about 3 out of every 4 deleted tweets were written by his staff. You have to wonder, what happened to these staff who made such epic and public fails? Better yet, what are they doing in the White House in the first place? We may never know, given that Kellyanne Conway still has her job.
Featured Image from DidTrumpTweetIt.com.