Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are using Trump's favorite social network to criticize his presidency
About a quarter of American adults use Twitter, but it has an outsize influence in media and politics
Most Americans don’t think President Trump’s tweets are all that presidential. A Quinnipiac poll released last month found 64% think he should “close his personal Twitter account.”
And yet, he persists.
This week, Trump name-called (“The failing @nytimes”), used all caps (“SEE YOU IN COURT”), and went after Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. ("He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore”), proving that three weeks into his presidency, he’s still the same brash Twitter user his supporters love and his critics loathe.
But some of his critics are trying to beat him at his own game, using Twitter to troll back.
About a quarter of US adults use Twitter, far less than Facebook and behind Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, according to a November Pew report. But it’s perhaps the most influential social network in politics and media, where a single witty tweet can crash news cycles, launch memes, or set off back-and-forth partisan “Twitter wars.”
Following the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision Thursday to not restore the Trump administration’s travel ban, @HillaryClinton tweeted “3-0,” a succinct gloat about the unanimous three-person ruling.
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway fired back, retweeting Clinton’s tweet with additional commentary: “PA, WI, MI,” three swing states the Trump campaign won.
Perhaps the Clinton most effective at Twitter trolling, though, is Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea. Employing internet colloquialisms, like linking to the latest Trump controversy while referencing how early it is (as if to say, “Trump has already ruined X, Y, and Z, and it’s only Monday”), @ChelseaClinton benefits from being conversational. Her feed is more typical liberal millennial than her scripted political family members.
Twitter trolling Trump is also becoming a must for ambitious Democrats on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted from his personal @realDonaldTrump account that his daughter Ivanka had been treated unfairly by Nordstrom for not carrying her clothing line. The controversial tweet was later retweeted by the official government @POTUS account. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, used Twitter to respond, questioning Trump’s displeasure at the department store but not Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, retweeted Trump earlier this month, hitting him on his tax returns, which he still has not released.
The most visual anti-Trump troll this week came not from an elected official, but Rosie O’Donnell, his longtime nemesis. She changed her Twitter avatar to a faceswap of her and Steve Bannon, a reference to the Politico report that Trump was upset with Melissa McCarthy playing Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live in part because she is a woman. O’Donnell tapped into the resulting internet campaign to have other women play male Trump administration members.
Twitter trolling is quick and cheap, and a smart or funny tweet can reach an audience of millions of more eyeballs than any one account, thanks to retweeting by others users and the ability to embed a tweet in a story, such as this one, or reachng eyeballs on television. Trump has given no indication he’s planning on scaling back his tweeting, and his critics, it seems, are just ramping up.