Trump's Tweets: Cyber-Bullying or Citizen-Direct Dialogue?

Posted Saturday, December 10, 2016 in Social Media by Patricia Seybold

President-Elect Donald Trump's Tweets were interesting during his candidacy, but now that he is President-Elect, they have taken on new meaning. Now Trump is setting national policy with his tweets and nobody knows what to do about it.

This will be the first US President who uses Twitter as his MAIN method of communicating with the world, his constituents, and the press. What's interesting to me about Trump's Twitter behavior is that it's a way of including the "common man" in the national dialogue way beyond the election. What's scary is that Trump's Tweets can have serious geopolitical and/or personal repercussions.

DANGEROUS HAIR TRIGGER? From a geopolitical standpoint, a tweet sent off in a moment of pique could trigger a trade war or spark a military reaction. Could Trump's threats and criticisms cause a leader in a country with nuclear weapons to go ballistic?

CYBERBULLYING? From a personal standpoint, those who have born the brunt of Trump's ire via Twitter have reported receiving tons of threatening phone calls and messages from Trump supporters. Trump's tweets apparently have the power to mobilize people to take actions--some of which may be unfortunate and damaging. As Taylor Link explains in his recent Salon post, Donald Trump's Twitter posts seem awfully close to violating Twitter's rules on abusive behavior.

GETTING THINGS DONE? On the flip side, many of Trump's tweets are proving to be a very effective way to start the ball rolling on initiatives that Trump cares about. For example, by threatening to raise import tarriffs on China, Apple iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, is now moving faster to expand its US manufacturing presence. And, by publicly criticizing Boeing for the cost of the Airforce One program, and Rexnord for exporting jobs, Trump has corporate America running scared. Is this a quick way to get companies to adopt Trump's policies, or is it more sinister than that, as Justin Rosario writes, is this the first step in Trump's creation of a fascist kleptocracy?

Whatever your take is on Trump's Tweets, we have clearly entered a new era in social media--one in which public policy making is visible to all.

If you'd like a laugh, and haven't yet seen it, check out Saturday Night Live's parody of Trump tweeting during a security briefing.


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