Why Trump’s Extreme Use of Social Media is Problematic

Aug 1 2017 BY Rachel Ayeh-Datey

Donald Trump is infamous for his arguably immature and unprofessional conduct on Twitter. Before he became President, he was well known for condemning former President Barack Obama through a series of 140 character rants. From criticising Hilary Clinton, to blasting the mainstream media for publishing ‘fake news’ and mocking North Korean missile launch attempts; Twitter has always been Trump’s first point of call whenever a thought crossed his mind. But his unrestrained use of Twitter is problematic in more ways than one.


It creates doubt in the identification process of a potential cyber attack. In such event that Trump’s Twitter account was being hacked, those consumers of his tweets may well not even realise. Hackers could tweet outlandish things for which the public and press might be inclined to take as truth because of his unorthodox communication style.


Furthermore, Trump’s trigger-finger style of tweeting has brought about economic instability for companies who happened to be within the firing line. His January 2017 tweet about taxing General Motors, to point to an example, resulted in a 0.7% drop in the company’s share price. Boeing’s stock also dropped by just over 1% following a serving of Trump Twitter criticism.


However, general business stability pales in comparison to the threat of another geopolitical war. With such countries as China and North Korea coming under fire from the President’s Twitter account, we’re often left to wonder how a nation might respond to such a novel form of public attack?


Trump’s latest online diplomatic faux pas saw him announce by tweet that the United States Government would not accept or allow Transgendered individuals to serve in the military under any capacity. This comes just over a year after Obama’s administration moved to repeal an anti-trans ban in the military.  The topic of trans people within military remains a controversial one. Its one of the most sensitive and controversial decisions that Trump has ever revealed on Twitter.


Transgender issues more widely speaking have increasingly been propelled into the mainstream consciousness in recent times. This can be attributed in part to the new identity reveal of the polarising Caityln Jenner via Vanity Fair alongside a television interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015.


In the now, Trump suggests that the potential cost of healthcare that a trans person might need to continue their transition would cripple the military. One of the things he failed to mention is that a proportion of transgendered people never actually medically transition. He also failed to unpick the details of the potential cost burden. A 2016 study by the Rand Cooperation which assessed the implications of allowing Transgendered personnel to serve estimated that gender transition costs would increase overall expenditures in healthcare by a measly 0.04 to 0.13%.


Ultimately, the nuances to the decision at hand cannot be conveyed within a thread of 140 character Tweets. Trump using this medium to disclose such a sensitive decision reveals two distinct things about both his presidency and character. Firstly, that he truly is an amateur to the world of politics, and secondly that he has a very callous personality.


The diplomatic protocols that Trump appears hellbent on sidestepping exist for good reason. They do much mitigate the risk of international communication exchanges escalating from disagreement into out-and-out conflict. There is immense value in well thought out press releases and  rehearsed press conferences. A professional White House correspondent meticulously drafting a press release or a speech with the President leaves little room for confusion.


It has since been revealed the Trump administration does not know how the trans military ban decision will materialise. They have not disclosed whether transgendered people who are already in the military are going to be discharged either. Tweeting such a decision while not knowing the specific details or drawing up any pertinent legislation to back up said decision leads to vast uncertainty and unrest. Like many of Trump’s other promises and outbursts, the anti-trans military ban leaves a vulnerable group of people holding their breaths and waiting for the government to decide their fate.