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Trump: Twitter's cash cow

In a thorough study, the Nov. 3 New York Times reviewed Donald J. Trump’s Twitter participation. The reporters had plenty to wade through. They noted that since May Trump has tweeted an average of 160 times weekly, with an all-time high of 271 tweets during the second week of October. This master of hyperbole can legitimately claim to be the Twitter champion.

Here’s the Times box score of his nearly 12,000 tweets since 2017:

Attacks on more than 630 people or things

More than 2,000 tweets praising himself

More than 750 tweets praising Fox News and other conservative news sources

More than 60 tweets falsely accusing the Obama administration of spying on his 2016 campaign

Numerous tweets of conspiracy theories or “deep state” claims

Twitter, established in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, is an Internet platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. It employs 4,600 and had a gross profit of $2.08 billion last year, with 90 percent of its total revenue coming from advertising. Its five-year sales growth is 35.55 percent, with 17.30 percent growth this past year. It has nearly 320 million users.

Against these generally rosy and robust figures looms a dark one. Twitter’s publicly traded stock has fallen from a high of $43.38 in September 2019 to $29.25 on Friday’s closing. This drop has happened while the market is at an all-time high.

Trump is the first to admit that Twitter is his lifeline. He calls it his conduit to the public, bypassing the news media to serve up unfiltered, unedited, grammar-riddled, typo-strewn messages that drive his narrative and distract everyone from everything else. Twitter states that he has 66 million followers.

But if Trump needs Twitter, Twitter needs Trump. He is their cash cow. How much attention would Twitter get without him? How much lower would its stock go if he weren’t tweeting?

That means that Twitter is an accomplice to every Trump lie, slander, intimidation, and incredulous claim. Twitter is Trump’s enabler. The damage that Trump has done to public discourse lies at Twitter’s doorstep.

Twitter claims that its platform serves democracy because every person can make his or her opinion immediately known to the world. In our country, Twitter says it is furthering our First Amendment right. Through this service our free exchange is amplified and broadcast around the world. Trump often states that his tweets are his unvarnished thoughts, his way to be transparent. But he is not simply another citizen. He is President of the United States. And every tweet he sends carries the POTUS imprimatur with all its power. It is yet another example of his reckless exercise of his office.

On Friday, while Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovich was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Trump tweeted an inflammatory screed about her. It may well lead to another article of impeachment against him. Twitter, a platform for real-time expression, was Trump’s messenger. Without Twitter, Trump’s full-throated scream would have been silenced.

I don’t need to tell you that I don’t use Twitter. But I would if Trump was banished from it. That ain’t going to happen. Not as long as Trump is Twitter’s cash cow.

Dennis Read lives in Ashland.

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