The Slatest

Trump Hauls Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the Oval Office, Wants to Know Why He Doesn’t Have More Twitter Followers

President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone via speakerphone in the Oval Office of the White House on August 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Does this one do tweets?
Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump met privately with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the Oval Office Tuesday because the president has successfully concocted a narrative that he and his far right Twitter buds are somehow getting unfairly censored on the platform. There are number of covert methods of online crowd control with creative names, like shadow banning, that conservatives believe they are unfairly the victim of. The practice, like all of the digital boogeymen they see, surreptitiously buries their messages, tweets, posts, and the like with an invisible digital anchor of sorts, making it hard to get their message of love and unity out to the world. You don’t have to know much more than that to know that sounds like a conspiracy theory Donald J. Trump might like a crack at. Unsurprisingly, Trump has really run with the idea that he’s the real victim here, despite practically owing his presidency to the platform.

There are a lot of serious issues facing social media and its role in our body politic, economy, and society writ large. Plenty for a president to chew over with the head of one of the most influential social media companies in the world. Here’s a preview of what Trump had on the brain going into the meeting:

Flash forward to Tuesday: “A significant portion of the meeting focused on Trump’s concerns that Twitter quietly, and deliberately, has limited or removed some of his followers,” a person with direct knowledge of the conversation told the Washington Post. “Trump said he had heard from fellow conservatives who had lost followers for unclear reasons as well.”

Donald Trump, a non-user of email, has noticed a glitch in the Twitter matrix. So what accounts for Trump’s drop in followers? One thought would be the Russian bots that disappeared into dust following the 2016 election. In fact, Twitter has made a concerted effort to clean up fake accounts, which likely accounts for the decline. Obama lost millions of followers in the Twitter bot purge.