Global Communication, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, public diplomacy, Social Media

It’s a New World: Rewriting Donald Trump’s Twitter

It’s no secret that the prominence and importance of social media has grown tremendously in the last decade. Facebook, Instagram and particularly Twitter have become key tools in political engagement of all sorts. Candidates, journalists and extremist groups alike have seen the outreach level of Twitter, and have used this engagement to build networks and create a narrative for themselves. Donald Trump has been revolutionary in his use of Twitter by engaging with his electorate directly. We haven’t seen a president use Twitter this much and by his own hand. Due to Twitter’s international presence, his tweets can have an enormous impact on the United States’ diplomacy initiatives worldwide. Therefore, we offer his team some guidance about how to potentially better their messaging abroad.

While many have criticized President Trump, few have presented real solutions. I believe that the issue isn’t with Trump’s use of Twitter, but how he uses it and the impact of his word choice and slant. In order to make Twitter a public diplomacy tool, President Trump might step back and consider editing his tweets with a foreign as well as domestic audience in mind. This would require input from officials closer to foreign audiences We offer some examples of potential edits to some of Donald Trump’s more challenging tweets.

Tweet:

 one

Donald Trump in this tweet defends his executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. The media largely covered the executive order as a ban on Muslims. His tweet, whether purposefully or not, continued the media narrative instead of projecting President Trump’s intent, which is well defined in the order name. Due to its perpetuation of a ban and not an action taken in the name of national security, Donald Trump’s tweet fails to counteract the prevalent narrative. This tweet creates a mismatch in rhetoric regarding the intentions and logistics of the executive order.

Edit:

two.png

This kind of language helps clarify the intention and helps elucidate and promote a narrative of protecting the nation from dangers abroad. It also directs away from the media narrative of discrimination on the part of the executive branch. This tweet also steered away from the use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism”. This key erasure of Islamic from that term points to the root of the problem this order aims to solve, which is violent extremism, and the danger it poses to the United States.

Tweet:

three

Here, President Trump reacts to the 9th circuit court decision to not reinstate his executive order. The intent behind this tweet is decently sound, however the word choice and combative nature give it a harsh undertone. In his questioning of this decision, the tweet challenges the checks and balances system of our three-branch model of government. Donald Trump demonstrates a doubt in the structure of the US government, which could potentially compromise our confidence and high ground when fighting for true and functional democracies internationally.

Edit:

 four

First and foremost, this revision comes out and expresses Donald Trump’s respect for the court system that his original tweet calls into question. This way, he is not only showing respect for the system, he remains a part of it by expressing his intent to continue in the constitutional process. The edit expresses his commitment to the initiative, as it keeps the original language of the second part of the tweet.

Tweet:

five

In this tweet, Trump compares the meetings his staff had with Russian officials with formal meetings between two presidencies. He diminishes the strength of the presidency, as he questions the legitimacy of the enumerated power of the president to act on the part of the United States internationally. Without these powers, the public diplomacy initiatives worldwide are compromised, as the executive is the key to these processes. This poses a threat to his own presidency, as it reflects on the branch overall, and less on the Obama administration individually.

Edit:

six

In the realm of public diplomacy, it is important to make the distinctions between diplomatic relations and potential international tampering. This Tweet isn’t the best reflection of President Trump’s dedication to preserving to dignity of the office of the presidency. We recommend against posting it at all, especially given the current ongoing investigation.

I hope President Trump can take these instances into account moving forward. It is a new reality with Twitter right at our fingertips, and adjusting is an important part of a presidency. Bringing in a communications team to fully develop these messages before they click send should become a consistent plan going forward.  I hope President Trump can take into account the public diplomacy implications of these 140 characters.

Caveat: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication or the George Washington University.

Advertisements

Discussion

12 thoughts on “It’s a New World: Rewriting Donald Trump’s Twitter

  1. Anna,

    Thank you for taking on a topic that I think is thoroughly under-researched and under-covered. One of the major developments in journalism that a lot of my professors have been talking about is the increased fact-checking in journalism and how important it is. I think your article is a great example of that and I think fact-checking is one of the most important things the press can do to ensure an informed and empowered citizenry. Check out this Post fact checker on Trump’s twitter at the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/04/21/what-trump-got-wrong-on-twitter-this-week-8/?utm_term=.203312f83253

    Posted by yuvallevsmpa | April 30, 2017, 3:53 pm
  2. I think you perfectly illustrated how frustrating it must be to work for President Trumps communications team. You illustrate how important it is for the president to be diplomatic when sending his message. Here is a rather pointed article from the New York Times about all the people, places, and things President Trump has indulted on Twitter: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/donald-trump-twitter-insults.html

    Posted by Robert O'Shaughnessy | April 30, 2017, 3:40 pm
  3. Just today, Senator John McCain said foreign leaders hoping to understand U.S. policy should “watch what the President does rather than what he says” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/30/politics/mccain-sotu-interview-trump-allies/). The CNN article also points to the example of Trump sending mixed messages to South Korea over a new missile defense system. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Advisor, spoke to the South Korean director of national security, Kim Kwan-jin, to reaffirm that the US would cover the cost of the THAAD antiballistic missile system that the U.S. just deployed to South Korea, but that came after Trump said that he wanted Seoul to pay for it. While he didn’t say that on Twitter, it is certainly indicative of the same kind of off-the-cuff remark that makes U.S. policy unclear and damages our credibility around the world.

    Posted by reedelman | April 30, 2017, 1:38 pm
  4. Social media literacy is an essential tool for our political leaders in this age. This blog takes a look at Twitter from an hysterical point of view and is able to politely and constructively critique the use by the leader of our nation. As Morgan0717 mentioned above, I wrote an article that ties in some of these points of respect and continuity, and includes topics such as removing some personal information or suggestions for including other foreign publics: https://takefiveblog.org/2017/04/20/4-tactics-for-pa-pd-and-principal-officers-on-twitter/.

    Posted by Amanda Menas (@amanda_menas) | April 30, 2017, 12:24 pm
  5. Your before-and-after approach was a really great way to illustrate your point. My only pushback would be that while your edited versions of the Tweets “helps clarify the intention and helps elucidate and promote a narrative,” they are the sort of disengaging, uncharismatic Tweets that are not only unattractive to American users but are completely contrary to the brash nature which elected Trump in the first place. I think your edits are absolutely a step in the right direction, but perhaps theres room and necessity for more personality.

    Posted by Vanessa Bajko | April 30, 2017, 11:38 am
  6. Anna – great post. My key take away from this post is that the Office of the President has the power to shape the tenor of dialogue both in the United States and abroad. Twitter is a very effective tool for the dissemination of a message and to gain input from various audiences. Donald Trump, no matter how abrasively, is engaging in the first part. In order to get the true power out of the network, Trump should crowdsource ideas from his followers and engage in productive dialogue so he can role model for the rest of the country. This article is a great help when it comes to how to use Twitter effectively. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/12-most-effective-ways-to-engage-on-twitter/

    Posted by Anthony Abron | April 30, 2017, 1:08 am
  7. This article perfectly illustrates that, in the hands of the President, Twitter becomes a policy tool. If this tool isn’t managed just like the other “standard” ways to express policy, it can undermine the legitimacy of the president, and hurt the international view of the United States. This is an interesting article on how President Trump’s irresponsible use of Twitter hurts the country: http://fortune.com/2017/02/03/donald-trump-tweets-democracy/

    Posted by egorpelevkin | April 30, 2017, 12:28 am
  8. While there has been a significant amount of attention paid to President Trump’s twitter account, this blog post was able to identify the impact specific tweets could and have had on international and diplomatic relations. By looking at just three of President Trump’s tweets, you were able to give more detailed public diplomacy remedies. Here is an article from the East Asia Forum about how President Trump’s tweets have impacted U.S. – China relations:
    http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/01/26/trumps-twitter-diplomacy-troubles-us-china-relations/

    Posted by Allison Crowe | April 29, 2017, 4:38 pm
  9. I appreciate the strong use of visuals in this post. They clearly articulate the need for a changing tenor from the White House. While it’s obvious that any type of language that comes from the White House is tremendously powerful, a new study by the AP shows that his tweets are having a diminished impact as his presidency wanes on: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2017/04/28/trump-tweets/101056226/

    Posted by brettm17 | April 29, 2017, 1:27 pm
  10. This was an entertaining read – and also terrifying – as Trump is unfortunately unlikely to change his strategy soon, the repercussions of which are totally unknown and constantly challenging for diplomats and foreign service officers abroad. I think it’s also interesting to consider Trump’s tweets not just as arbitrary missteps, but part of a broader strategy. This Atlantic piece calls his Twitter behavior “asymmetric warfare,” which, accurate or not, is an interesting way of considering the impacts of his tweets on foreign leaders and policies – especially as this has continued into his presidency, which is jarring. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/trump-asymmetric-war-establishment/512231/

    Posted by Alexa Smith-Rommel | April 29, 2017, 11:18 am
  11. I thought that this article was really interesting because it brought an insightful perspective to Trump’s Twitter account. The visuals in this piece of the original and edited tweets provide effective evidence as to how word choice can greatly affect the overall message and connotation of the tweets to his audience.

    Posted by sarinakaplan | April 26, 2017, 10:14 pm
  12. I thought this was a really insightful and interesting approach to social media and the Presidency. I thought your edits and your actions were well thought out, and I think this other blog would be an interesting read for you in furthering your research and reading: https://takefiveblog.org/2017/04/20/4-tactics-for-pa-pd-and-principal-officers-on-twitter/#comment-44820

    Posted by morgan0717 | April 26, 2017, 10:13 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

IPDGC’s twitter feed

IPDGC Home