In 2017, just a week after Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States, I found the President's use of Twitter very good. We were not used to a president speaking unfiltered to the people who voted for him. It was an amazing experiment for democracy.
I had no idea.
From March 18, 2009, the day Donald Trump began tweeting (and long before he became president), to January 8, 2021, when the President's Twitter account was suspended, he tweeted 59.553 times. Wikipedia reports that it has published more than 34.000 tweets since announcing its candidacy in June 2015.
If you divide the number of tweets of 34.000 by 66 months from June 2015, you will find that he made an average of 515 tweets per month or about 17 tweets every day.
He had a lot to say and according to Twitter, not everything was fine.
As we mentioned, Twitter locked the President's account last week. The company mentioned some key factors that led to the suspension of the account, and which you can read in our article about the ban. Citing breaches of the President's rhetorical violence, the company pulled the plug as it does with all those who do not follow its rules.
This, of course, was a huge blow to Trump's ability to communicate directly with his base. He had about 88 million followers on Twitter. Think about it. What other leader in human history has been able to give an opinion or a comment and reach 88 million people instantly at no cost and without censorship?
Twitter was not alone in trying to stop the President's rhetoric. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitch also blocked President Trump's accounts. Of course, it was Twitter that provided the president with close contact with the public.
The importance of presidential records
As a citizen I watch all the events with a mixture of horror and charm. So I had a deeper concern: what will happen to the president's tweets if his account continues to be deactivated?
I've been thinking and writing about presidential records for many years, since I wrote the book Where Have All The Emails Gone? the George W. Bush administration email scandal.
It is important to see the value of tweets as history and not as a political legacy. Now that digital files exist we need to ensure that they remain, so that the older ones can remember and the younger ones can learn.
Proper preservation and editing of presidential records is critical for historians and those looking to revisit the second half of the first decade of the 21st century.
Tweets contain valuable information about the beliefs, concerns, prejudices, decision-making methodology and personalities of leaders.
President Trump's tweets can offer historians an even deeper picture. They are the instantaneous representations of the inner thoughts of the 45th president. Over time, the fanaticism of the moment will disappear, but historians will continue to want to understand the motives and character. These tweets, in part, provide this information.
The National Archives will receive, preserve, and provide access to all official Trump Administration social media content, including deleted posts from @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS. Read more about preserving President Trump's records at https://t.co/oMKUfEKfrj
- US National Archives (@USNatArchives) January 10, 2021
Fortunately, it looks like these tweets will be retained. The National Archives and Records Administration from the National Archives and Records Administration, on Sunday, January 10, revealed (via a tweet, of course) that they will file President Trump's social media content.