Donald Trump desperately needs Twitter. But will he ever be able to beat his ban? | Arwa Mahdawi

Trump has handled his social media exile with all the grace one would expect – and now he’s pathetically grovelling for the chance to tweet

Did you get a bit antsy on Monday when Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down? Did you feel the terrible tremors of an addict forced to go cold turkey? If so then please spare a thought for how torturous this year has been for poor old Donald Trump. The 75-year-old social media junkie has been banned from all his favourite platforms since January, when he was accused of inciting and applauding a violent insurrection. Different sites handed out different punishments: Trump was put in Facebook jail for at least two years with a chance of parole; Twitter, on the other hand, has said there isn’t a hope in hell he’s getting his account back. Not even if he becomes president again.

Trump has handled his social media exile with all the grace one would expect from him. And, to be fair, I can understand why the belligerent billionaire is confused by the fact that he has been told he is not allowed to do something. How could it be possible, after all, that a rich white man be banned from doing anything, let alone something he enjoys? It goes against all the rules of nature! Well, you’ll be glad to know that Trump is on a mission to right all that and make his social media life great again. On Friday, the former president begged a federal judge in Florida to grant an injunction that would make the losers and haters at Twitter reinstate his @realDonaldTrump account while he fights the company’s permanent ban. This guy used to be the most powerful man in the world; now he’s pathetically grovelling for a chance to tweet. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t also a sobering reminder of the immense power big tech has.

You know what else is funny, in a horrible sort of way? Trump’s explanations for why he deserves his Twitter account back. According to court documents, Trump’s Twitter ban isn’t just cruel and unusual, it could spell the end of the Republican party as we know it. His legal team’s request for an injunction argues that: “[By] de-platforming the presumptive head and most popular member of the Republican party, cutting him off from the most effective and direct forms of communication with potential voters, [Twitter] is threatening irreparable damage to the Republican party’s prospects in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”

While that analysis may be dramatic, it’s not entirely incorrect. At the very least, the Twitter ban certainly threatens irreparable damage to Trump’s political future. Ask yourself this: would Trump ever have been elected president without social media? He’s admitted he doesn’t think so. “I doubt I would be here if it weren’t for social media, to be honest with you,” Trump said in a 2017 interview with Fox. “Tweeting is like a typewriter – when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show … When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it … [W]ithout social media … I would probably not be here talking.”

The past few months have confirmed that analysis: Trump’s attempts to go “bing, bing, bing” without Twitter and Facebook have gone badly, badly, badly. In May, he launched a blog called From the Desk of Donald J Trump. Hardly anybody read it and, after less than a month, it was shut down and scrubbed from the internet. Trump hasn’t faded into oblivion, of course. He may grumble about being CENSORED but no one has shut him up: he still does interviews, his aides send out daily fundraising emails, he holds a lot of rallies. None of that, however, has managed to ignite the news cycle in the same way his tweets did. It’s still not clear whether Trump is going to run in 2024. But I’ll tell you this: Trump desperately needs Twitter. Without it he just looks like a Twit.

  • Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist


Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

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