Many aspiring memers dream to one day create a viral meme that sweeps across the Internet. Yet they all are single-handedly outclassed by the leader of the free world, President Donald Trump. In a tweet yesterday night, Trump tweeted a half-completed message with an unforgettable conclusion- covfefe. The tweet soon spread across the news and Internet, evoking both laughter and shaking of heads at the tragic typo.
Yet the ridiculous tweet also raised an important question about government and social media. Should President Trump have his own personal Twitter account?
Communication with Americans
In today’s world, there is an unprecedented ability to send and receive information. With the click of a mouse or the press of a button, we can instantly send information across the world. Many believe that presidents have a responsibility to use the available resources to best communicate with the American people.
Throughout history, American presidents have adapted to and utilized new technology to better communicate with the public. Abraham Lincoln was the first to commonly use the telegraph. And just recently, President Obama used Twitter and Facebook to communicate with Americans. New technology has helped to improve the link between the government and the people, and Trump’s Twitter account is no exception.
The idea of American presidents openly discussing issues directly with the people dates back to President FDR’s Fireside chats. From 1933 to 1944, Roosevelt used these chats to explain his policies and his intention to help American families. He comforted Americans struggling during the Great Depression and assured them that change was coming. In a way, Trump’s Twitter account has the same potential as an outlet directly to the American people.
Openness and transparency with the American people have never been more important. When both liberals and conservatives fear the growth of fake news, a source directly from the highest level of government is invaluable. And while some would argue Trump is not always the most credible source, he is only one of many people on the Internet sharing their opinions and thoughts. More sources is the key to greater democracy and freedom of expression, not less.
A Threat to National Security
While open and transparent communication with the average American is a great aspect of Trump’s Twitter account, many believe that it could be a serious threat to national security. President Trump’s casual discussion of important government discussions could potentially expose American strategy. In fact, foreign agencies are already using his account as a gateway inside the mind of the American government. According to defense expert P.W. Singer, “We’re beginning to see what excites him, what angers him, what sets him off. We’ve never had this ability to read so much on what a president is thinking.” Through Trump’s constant tweeting, he may inadvertently reveal confidential information or procedures.
Additionally, with a popular private account, Trump runs the risk of losing control of his account. And realistically, it isn’t that unlikely that others could hack into his account. Back in 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s account was hijacked by a hacker. For 44 minutes, his status read: “I resign. I’m ashamed of the government’s actions. I’m sorry. We appear to be going back to the ’80s. That’s sad. If that’s the goal of my colleagues in the Kremlin, it will soon be achieved.” Sure, this tweet turned out to be completely harmless in the long run. But if a hacker posted a direct threat to a major world power like Russia, declaring the beginning of nuclear warfare, it could potentially devastate the world in the span of several hours.
America’s Image: Covfefe and Other Blunders
Additionally, through his aggressive tweeting, Trump may endanger America’s appearance and reputation. This may not be quite as grave as the issue of national security. However, claims unsubstantiated by facts and outright inaccurate tweets can spread misinformation and hurt America’s image. For example, Trump claimed last November that millions of voters voted illegally against him in the presidential election– an absurdly high number with little factual basis. And of course, there was the infamous covfefe tweet last night. The tweet was more comical than harmful, but nevertheless, it projects a poor image of America. As the leader of the free world, as long as President Trump is going to keep his Twitter account, he should at least double-check his tweets for embarrassing grammatical errors like covfefe before hitting ENTER.
What do you think? Is Trump’s Twitter account worth its drawbacks?
By the way: covfefe is pronounced cov-feh-feh, not cov-fee-fee. And if you disagree, well, you are pretty much wrong.