Opinion | Can Donald Trump Survive Without Twitter? - The New York Times
par Charlie Warzel
Reflexively, it feels a bit odd to care so much about a 74-year-old man losing access to the app he uses to complain about cable news. But the Trump presidency, and indeed almost all of his political career, is inextricable from the platform. He tweeted and tweeted, and the rest of us rejoiced or grimaced in equal measure. Either way, his tweets made news. His account, for better or worse (spoiler: worse), acted as the national media’s assignment editor for a half decade. And here we are.
Now it’s gone.
The obvious question now is: What does this mean for Mr. Trump’s future? Can a disgraced president addicted to outrage and innately governed by the same forces as the attention economy survive without his primary outlet?
To think of Mr. Trump as an influencer is to suggest that his message can be contained. That his ideas live and die with him and his ability to broadcast them. To suggest that Trumpism is something bigger — that it is a platform itself — is to argue that Mr. Trump and his followers have constructed a powerful, parallel information ecosystem that is as strong and powerful (one could argue even more powerful) than any system built to oppose it. But anyone plugged into the pro-Trump universe realizes that Trumpism is bigger than the figurehead.
So which is Mr. Trump: the influencer or the platform?
Like all platforms, Mr. Trump is a natural engine of radicalization — for those who support him and those who oppose him. Consuming more of him leads only to a hardening of one’s ideology. Each rally and every successive tweet is more extreme than the last, propelling most of Mr. Trump’s followers deeper down the rabbit hole and intensifying their enthusiasm or disgust for the president. For this reason, like any good platform, Mr. Trump is a time suck. Evenings, weekends, holidays, you name it — are all derailed by his demand for your time and attention. Both are the ultimate currency to the Trump platform, allowing him to remain the central figure in American life.
Traditionally, a platform is a software framework for others to build on top of. In the case of the social media platforms, their fundamental role is to amass a base of users, connect them and provide people with ways to reach those audiences at scale. Influencers and creators provide the content but live at the whims of the platforms and their rules. They rely on the platforms for audience, and even a subtle tweak of an algorithm can mean fading to obscurity.
It is a precarious existence. When you serve at the pleasure of the platforms, you can be de-platformed. We’re about to see if Donald Trump can truly be de-platformed.