The Power of Twitter in Politics

At latest since Donald Trump was elected US-President, the short message service Twitter plays a major role in every day’s politics. Around three to five times the US-President is tweeting daily. He does that by himself, without a social media team supporting him or tweeting for him. He wants to communicate his view of the world in the most quick and direct way. He succeeds in influencing the US journalists, politicians and diplomats, who often adapt their daily schedule according to Trump’s latest tweets.

Twitter seems to be the ideal communication platform for the US President. He is able to communicate his statements in short phrases and he does not have to reply to any critical questions. Even though his tweets are commented by thousands of his followers, who also pose many questions, it is totally acceptable in the “twitter-world” to not reply to any of them. However, it can be regarded as problematic that Trump shares his very personal views, which often do not represent the common US perspective. In addition, he mixes private and public life in his tweets and discredits other persons and even states. Only recently he criticised Germany for having – in his opinion – a too big trade surplus, which would be “bad for the US”, as he put it. Donald Trump and his tweets are unpredictable and that is definitely not a very positive feature in the political sphere.

Late night on May 31 there was a new peak in regard to Trump’s twitter activities. He tweeted “Despite the negative press covfefe”. The incomplete sentence with the non-existing word “covfefe”, he probably meant “coverage”, was online for six hours, which means an eternity in the fast-paced social media environment. Until the tweet was deleted six hours later, it was shared over 100.000 times and created many wordplays and jokes about the newly created word. Many twitter users are convinced that it was a mistake of Trump to tweet the half sentence. However, others are sure that he did it intentionally to gain attention. The episode shows very clearly, how many people are reading and reacting to the tweets of the US President. Thus, the power of twitter as major actor and direct connection to Trump’s thoughts is evident.