Separate Policies & Rules for Donald Trump
Back in the good old pre-internet days, we had this thing called a “chain letter.” The concept was simple. One person would write a letter and send it to a group of others. Every recipient was requested to send a copy of the letter to a specific number of other people. This was an early exercise in “going viral.” The “chain” theoretically could have created an exponentially growing pyramid, and the concept was exploited by get-rich-quick scams. Chain letters were used by low-tech social groups that the internet eventually killed.
In the early 1970s, we had a lot of social media starts and stops from Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), but the biggest leap came when AOL introduced millions to ICQ in 1997. They bought the patent from an Israeli company named Mirabilis, which had Yair Goldfinger as a founder. Yes, true. The name ICQ was a sound-play on the phrase, “I Seek You.” This revolutionary app allowed young users to instantly communicate via typing with their friends online. Those teenagers are now in their mid-thirties and ICQ was their introduction to social media, which they never stopped using.
I studied and deployed social media to promote my comedy web site, books and blog. I have also advertised on Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes very successfully, other times, “Meh!” The power of targeting people by their interests, posts or political viewpoints has made social media companies billions of dollars. For example, last year Facebook made $70.7 billion, YouTube clocked in with $15.1 billion, and records show that Twitter earned $3.46 billion in 2019. So, they are more than social; they are rich.
That brings us to Donald Trump. In 2009, Trump created @realDonaldTrump on Twitter to promote his brand and TV show, and he has been tweeting ever since. According to the blog, TweetBinder, since 2009 Donald Trump has shared over 42,000 original tweets. With an estimated 80 million followers now, Trump uses his personal twitter account as the official mouthpiece of his presidential administration, along with various personal thoughts, complaints, bitch fests and brain farts. Not all of his 80 million followers love him. News media, political operatives and members of Congress track his tweets just to keep up with the man’s outrageous and questionable words. I won’t miss him when he’s gone from all social media. I truly believe Trump is addicted to Twitter.
Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams created Twitter in 2006. The service grew rapidly, and by 2012 they had more than 100 million users. The original name was “twttr,” and when the service began each tweet was limited to 140 characters. Later, the limit was expanded to 280 characters. Their bird logo and the spelling out of the name Twitter can be seen everywhere, which was one of the main reasons I signed up. The service has 262 million international users with 42% of their users living in the US.
When I jumped on the bird, I was the VP of Marketing for an international software company, which had more than fifty web sites and services and a full complement of social media pages to promote our products and services. Sure, I asked our lawyers to read all the EULA’s (End User License Agreements), but, like most of us I clicked the [Accept] button without reading the rules. My company utilized multiple sites, accounts and pages for each social media platform. Not only were these sites in different languages, but we needed to research which approaches worked best in the various world markets where we operated. This is not uncommon, but I guess it’s more important to the providers than I thought.
In the early social media days, we got away with many things because the platforms didn’t catch us. They were too busy counting their money. Like many of us, I have been on edge during the global pandemic. I’ve lashed out online at people who were making ridiculous statements, presenting lies and aiding Donald Trump in his supreme stupidity. I have been angrier than ever because people I knew were dying from this terrible coronavirus and some of the things I posted were demented, derogatory and dangerous.
Yes, I said some terrible things to and about the new White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, after she went on Fox News and said the virus was a hoax created by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump. While people were dying, she was creating a false narrative to protect fat boy. My tweets screamed at her as she was working in her new job for the President. Right after that, I was suspended from Twitter, and I appealed.
Twitter denied my appeal and banned me for life. They sent me a letter that outlined what they described as “severe violations of their polices and platform manipulation rules.” They claimed I was “artificially amplifying or disrupting conversations using multiple accounts.” Guilty! They claimed I was operating “multiple accounts that interacted with one another in order to inflate or manipulate the prominence of specific Tweets or accounts.” Guilty! Then, they closed the coffin with this sentence, “Please do not reply to this message as this email address is not monitored.” They closed all my accounts and deleted all my content. WTF?
You might be asking, why do I care? Well, I just want to be treated the same as the President of the United States. He employs many accounts, @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS being two examples, and he uses many press room accounts to promote his maniacal messaging on the platform. Of course, he’s also in violation of posting messages that promote violent actions — like threatening an entire country with nuclear annihilation — but they look the other way and, under the law, they cannot delete his posts and he cannot block any user from seeing his tweets. They have officially said they will not take down Trump’s tweets accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murder, even though they know it’s a lie. Trump cannot be censored, but I can.
I openly admit I have also said some bad things about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and some of the ridiculous policies implemented at his company. Their selective censorship seemed to change right after Mr. Dorsey met with Trump in the Oval Office, but I cannot say that on Twitter, only Facebook. Dorsey is not a worthy gatekeeper and he cannot justify his actions.
If I had a big money pouch I would sue Twitter and make this an issue, but any solution would mean Twitter would have to stop their censorship regarding what can be posted and what is verboten. Pure freedom of speech would also protect neo-Nazis and anarchists. Not a good solution. Twitter claim they are not a publisher; they are only a service or platform, yet I was not in control of my account. They claim they aren’t the writer, just the printer, yet they decide what the ink can print. Doublespeak at its finest!
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have the same problem. When protesters in Michigan were waving Nazi flags and holding signs with terrible World War II death camp slogans, I went ballistic and wrote a blog post to condemn them. My post and link to the story were taken off Facebook because I attached a photo of the protestor’s appalling sign to my post. They claimed this was offensive and in violation of their polices on spreading hate. I wasn’t promoting hate; I was pointing out the hate so people could see it for themselves.
So, here is just another failure of algorithms that hold too much power over people. Software code cannot comprehend subtle nuances and meanings and that makes it exceedingly difficult to resolve disputers or ask for clarification.
This is not Donald Trump’s fault, but he is certainly part of the problem, a large, unmovable part. I do believe that when Trump is no longer President, all those official Twitter accounts will remain at the White House. And when Trump reverts to being a private citizen, we can complain about how he uses his account. Maybe then, he will be held to the standards. Until then, I am shooting the bird.
If you read this book, you can see why all this happened to us.
The book that tells it like it is…
Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs shows how we’ve wasted our GOLD on bad wars and corruption. While GOD is there for many people as a spiritual enrichment and the provider of glowing feelings, the truth is just praying and believing will not change our major arc. We don’t determine who gets a GUN. We aren’t sure if we have paramilitary groups ready to storm the White House or a White Castle. There is no control of weapons. The GOOFBALLS with the power constantly try to manipulate us into spending more money on bombs and tanks and wars. When all of our institutions are infected with neglect and fall in disrepair, we will only have ourselves to blame. This book is not an antidote for the left or right, it’s an accelerant to move the middle off their collective asses to go do something positive for America.