On Inauguration Day, the official @POTUS twitter account was switched over to Trump, and the main splash told readers that all tweets would be from his Director of Social Media, Dan Scavino, Jr., unless Trump wrote them, in which case they would be signed “-DJT.” Our analysis of the @POTUS tweets shows that he only did this for a handful of tweets during the first 3 weeks of his term, and then stopped completely. Overall, it appears that more than one out of every five of these official POTUS tweets were written by Trump himself, but never acknowledged.
The President’s promise to reveal when he tweets from the official @POTUS account.
The image below is a screen capture of the @POTUS twitter splash.
Using to the DidTrumpTweetIt database, we count that @POTUS made 166 tweets at the time of this article. Of those, there are exactly 7 that have been signed with “-DJT.” They were most written in the days after the inauguration, with the last one on Feb. 15, 2017. One example is:
⚡️THANK YOU to my amazing family for their support since I announced my candidacy on 6/16/2015. -DJT https://t.co/Db6titMVtq
— President Trump (@POTUS) January 24, 2017
So far, so good.
Is Trump following his own rules?
In the DidTrumpTweetIt database, we found 33 tweets that use the first person “I“, “me” or “my” but are not signed “-DJT,” starting on inauguration day and running through his whole Presidency (the last is from Mar. 8). There are probably a lot more, since we only used a very simple search. Here is one such example:
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
This is a bigger problem. These sound like Trump wrote them, but he didn’t sign his name to them. Now one could argue that these obviously came directly from the president, so there was no need for him to sign them. Or, he could have been dictating to Scavino. Or Scavino could be impersonating the president, and covering himself by not signing them. The point here is that we have no way of knowing.
The worst in this story are the ten identical tweets from @POTUS and Donald Trump’s personal account (@realDonaldTrump), where the @realDonaldTrump tweet came from an Android device. As has been widely noted by data scientists, Trump likely wrote any @realDonaldTrump tweets coming from an Android phone, while those written by iPhones were written by an anonymous staffer.
These duplicate posts started on Feb. 25, and the latest was posted while this story was being written. Here, Trump is clearly the author of the message, but there is no acknowledgement of that on the @POTUS account.
White lies or official betrayal of trust?
Remember this is the official account for the President of the United States. We’ve found at least 36 tweets that appear to have been written by Trump but not signed as such (In case you are keeping count from above, seven out of the ten that are identical to @realDonaldTrump posts also showed up in our search for first-person pronouns, so we didn’t double count these). That is 22% of all the tweets from @POTUS, or more than one in five.
This situation is like someone standing in a shadow using a voice changer in the White House briefing room. Can you imagine the uproar? The press, and indeed the American people would never stand for that.
In a campaign and administration that flaunts its utter contempt for honesty, it should be little surprise that Trump has broken his own promise to pull back the curtain on his official communications. How many readers do you suppose rolled their eyes when they saw this headline and thought “Yawn…Yet another lie.” There are plenty of commentaries out there on how this administration has made us all numb to its lies. We have a very different message.
Anonymity removes accountability.
Before social media, we always knew who was delivering messages from the White House to the public. Even if a story was leaked, at least the reporter knew who leaked it to him or her. And we knew the name of the reporter writing it up.
Social media, Twitter and Facebook chief among them, have put curtains of anonymity around channels of official communication. Multiple people can and do use the same account and we have no way to know. If someone shares bad information, who do we hold accountable?
Don’t forget, the government works for We The People. Transparency is our guarantee. Accountability is our check and balance. We have none of those in this situation.
Ironic that for a man who promised to give government back to the people, he has taken that away from us as well. Or insidious. You decide.
Featured images from Wikipedia and Pixabay.