It’s called the “Twitter Presidency” because it has become abundantly clear that our next elected President will not stop using Twitter. Many of our most astute observers and pundits predict his use of the instant communication platform will grow larger and more aggressive. As of right now, just eleven days before the inauguration, Donald Trump has found that he can shift stock markets, influence international corporations and drive the media cycle with a few Tweets. With that much positive feedback, I find myself agreeing with the pundits; we are in store for a 21st Century President that “speaks directly to the people” without all that annoying media interference.
In this post I will present and discuss some changes that Twitter can implement to create the perfect communication tool for our new Commander in Chief.
The 140-Character Limit
In the last few weeks, Mr. Trump has suffered from the standard 140 characters afforded by Twitter. He has resorted to sending out Serialized Tweets to get his full message across. It is my belief that as he wades deeper into more complex issues, he will find himself sending out 20- to 30- Tweet monologues. The danger is that this format offers too great an opportunity for misunderstanding. By taking a Tweet out of context, it is far too easy for his message to get lost or hijacked.
The first change needed in the Twitter Presidency Client is to allow more room. It would break the platform’s concept to provide too much, so let’s start with an upper limit for the Presidential Twitter of 700 characters. This gives him the space to fully form his message but doesn’t demand a long-term investment in thought and consideration. (With his miniscule attention span, giving him too much time will just ensure he wanders around lost instead of forming hard-hitting and strategic dispatches.)
Expanded Links and References
Mr. Trump has also demonstrated a desire to retweet other messages he has read on Twitter. He will often send out a few retweets then follow them up with a tweet or three that coalesces his thoughts on the matter. This disjointed presentation can also lead to misunderstanding, so the new Twitter Presidency Client should offer Mr. Trump an extensive table of hyperlinks to Tweets that underscore his central theme. The table should also include a bit of AI technology to delve into the links and automatically provide important details such as the source, political leaning, and accuracy of the referenced material.
Accuracy and Reality
Facebook has recently undertaken a new initiative to mark posts with a special warning label when the source is known to be faked or inaccurate. This is a function traditionally performed by the Main-Stream Media. But with the directness of Twitter, that vital function is circumvented. Yet it absolutely crucial to proper understanding of our new President’s message that inaccuracies and falsehoods in his message be called out.
The new Twitter Presidency Client will include a feature that immediately submits his messages to a body of fact-checkers and historians. Before each Presidential Tweet is dispatched to his audience, it will be adorned with a simple meter icon that indicates the accuracy of the facts contained within. Clicking on the icon can open a new page showing the details of the fact-checkers research as well as additional references to back up their opinion. (This would be a good opportunity for the larger media organizations to apply their expertise to the information dissemination process.)
Rebuttals and Replies
Mr. Trump often targets a specific individual or entity in his messaging. While Twitter does provide a form of linking messages from different sources, it falls far short of providing a direct rebuttal to the initial message. Thus the new Twitter Presidency Client will offer a direct link to the accounts and responses of those people or entities mentioned in his tweet. This can be used to shore up his message or dispute it, but without the danger of losing the connection between the two. It is my belief that this will help establish a more informative conversation by putting all points of view in one easily referenced location.
To be fair, any replies or rebuttals from the targeted parties will be subjected to the same fact-checking and link-checking regimen. However I think it also fair to limit the responses to Twitter’s normal 140-character limit and formatting.
We are witnessing a massive change in how information is assembled and disseminated to the public at large. It is the responsibility of technology companies to ensure the accuracy and immediacy of that information at all stages. By circumventing the time-honored free press of the United States, Mr. Trump is also circumventing the checks and balances that ensure the potency of his words. If we are to change our form of information gathering to use the more immediate and direct channels like Twitter, we must also ensure that important messages from important people are complete, correct and fully formed. These ideas for a Twitter Presidency Client will start the process of ensuring that our new Commander In Chief lives up to the high standards established by the 44 Presidents before him.