Sunday, August 14, 2022

An Internet without Trump | WIRED

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How humans connect is determined by the dominant mediums of their time. In the political sphere, from the 1930s on, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used public radio for his “fireside talks.” John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama later drew on the visual charm of television, where they excelled as gifted speakers. Not all presidents are equally adept at using the tools available to them, but some politicians understand the rhythms of the times in which they live better than others.

This includes Donald Trump. It was made from television and therefore the ideal avatar for an Internet population that thrives on the unpredictable theaters of its public figures. With the cunning of an arrogant con artist, he played for an increasingly fractured nation using social media. Trump took a liking to Twitter, where he adopted the rhetorical flair of a WWE brawler. He wasn’t just the president of reality TV; it was that he was living somewhere beyond real reality. Online he was seemingly ubiquitous: in meme and GIF form, hector in sound clips, mocking Saturday Night Live. Over time, he started to feel like Trump was the one fixed point we were all orbiting around, even though many tried to avoid his dangerous pull.

Ultimately, Trump’s tweets became the currency of the national conversation, the mold that should be filled. Her genre was a boundless shock. He was a blatant bully and an occasional paragon of fanaticism in the media. None of this makes the fact of the matter any less true: During his entire tenure in the White House, @realDonaldTrump was the center of the social media universe. Entire days were tied to his erratic personality, small grievances and temper tantrums. His Twitter account has become the most influential particle of social media over the past five years, a bit of unpredictability that has been relied on even though it has cost mentally.

Whether you agree with Trump’s strongman style never mattered, because the call, for followers and critics alike, was always there. “Mainstream media needs conflict, sensationalism, and drama to maintain ratings, and Trump provided that,” says Magdalena Wojcieszak, communications professor at UC Davis. As the 2016 presidential election approached, Trump’s tweets fueled cable media coverage, resulting in a disproportionate increase in airtime (which amounted to $ 2 billion in free media). “And this continued throughout his presidency,” Wojcieszak says.

It was, until January 8, when Twitter “permanently suspendedHe from the platform after the insurgency in DC, where a pro-Trump mob looted the halls of the Capitol as members of Congress voted to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

To explain his decision, Twitter quoted two tweets in particular – neither are among Trump’s worst, you notice – saying they were “likely to inspire others to replicate the acts of violence that have taken place” . Other tech companies have followed suit, taking collective action to cut the very cables that held Trump’s center of power for so long. “We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this time are just too great,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. The decision to lift Trump’s suspension will be made by Facebook Supervisory Board. But by unilaterally stripping Trump of his account, the move also illustrated just how influential tech companies can be when they want to muzzle public discourse.

Prohibitions, long overdue, had the effect of a tranquilizer; suddenly, the deadlines seemed a little less disturbed. On Twitter and other corners of the internet, the spread of disinformation has decreased by 73%, according to a report in The Washington Post.

But an Internet without Trump also leaves us with a series of questions. What happens to an ecosystem like Twitter when the person who was both the center and the source of some disorder is banned? Besides that, what consequence does it have on the users?


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