Twitter, Trump and Reality

Unless you are living under a rock then you likely know that Donald Trump is threatening Twitter for labeling his posts as lies. Trump is obviously upset at Twitter for calling him a liar. But there is more to the story that gets lost in the noise.

Twitter owes Donald Trump and they both know it.

Twitter went public in 2013. From that point on it was forced to publicly report its earnings to investors. One of the most important metrics used by social media platforms are the numbers of active users. The more active users the better the platform is doing.

In 2014, according to its earnings reports, Twitter had about 288 million active users. Those increased to 307 million in Q3 of 2015 but dropped to 305 in the fourth quarter of 2015. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump made extensive use of Twitter. Trump continues to do so today.

Even then, Twitter’s active users remained at about 317 million users throughout 2016.

In early 2019, Twitter announced that it had 126 million active users, which was about 60 million less users than Snapchat had at the time, and much less than the users it had reported in previous years.

Although Trump made extensive use of the Twitter platform, its user base continues to dwindle.

To better understand what this means, we can look at the Twitter stock price over time.

Note how Twitter’s share price had bottomed out in 2016 and 2017 and began to increase in late 2017. Those price increases correlate to Trump’s use of Twitter to fight against those he perceives as his enemies. The fights led to an increase in Russian bots and Trump-supporters flooding the platform to help manage the Trump illusion.

As Trump continues to use Twitter, he keeps Twitter on life support.

But Twitter remains a dying platform regardless of Trump. It is still stagnant, but Trump’s antics on Twitter keeps it on life support.

Nonetheless, it now appears that even Twitter has had enough of Donald Trump’s lies and has decided to label his posts as lies, even at the expense of Twitter’s viability.

The lie-labeling of Trump tweets may well be the end of Twitter as we know it today. As for Trump, well his lies are well documented with, or without Twitter’s lie labels.

As an aside, there are rumblings that Donald Trump will issue an executive order targeting the social media channels. The target is Section 230, also known as the safe harbor legislation. We will look deeper into this as more information becomes available.

But the order, in whatever format it ends up being, does not negate the fact that Twitter and Trump need each other.

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