The trend Robinson discovered held up for many months. Angry tweets like these would arrive in the wee hours from the presidential Samsung Galaxy. In the afternoon, staid iPhone tweets respectfully thanked crowds at rallies for Making America Great Again.
Then, suddenly, the flow of Android tweets dried up. After an uncharacteristically dry tweet on March 8 about a workforce report from LinkedIn (the tweet did not have a link, however, true to form), two and a half weeks passed without another from the Android.
The presidential tweets kept coming, of course—and coming and coming and coming—but they were all posted from an iPhone. Oddly, though, the feed’s split personality didn’t fade. Tweets like this gem from Thursday, March 23, which decried the “totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC,” came from an iPhone. (That message was punctuated with a particularly Trumpian coda: “Such dishonesty!”) But so too did tweets like this one from just two days prior, which included images and the phrase “ingrained in our nation’s fabric,” two dead giveaways that the tweet came from staff.
What happened? Some reporters speculated that Trump may have finally gotten an iPhone. Perhaps that old, unsecured Samsung—so old, in fact, it can’t run the newest, safest version of the Android operating system—had been wrested from Trump’s fingers from a brave, security-conscious aide.
That would’ve been a relief to security experts who had warned for months about the dangers of Trump’s attachment to that phone. The device, likely a Samsung Galaxy S3, has such serious security problems that it’s probably “compromised by at least one—probably multiple—hostile foreign intelligence services and is actively being exploited,” according to Nicholas Weaver, a security researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. That would mean that foreign agents could be listening on his private conversations, monitoring him as he moves around the country, and potentially seeing the world through the eyes of his smartphone camera.
But lo, the Android tweets are back. The spectacular collapse of the American Health Care Act, Trump’s response to Obamacare, was enough to bring the old device out from retirement this weekend. Here’s what the president tweeted from an Android on Saturday:
It’s not certain that Trump picked up the old Android phone he’d been carrying around throughout the campaign to send off that tweet and another just minutes later. It could be that Trump got a newer, more secure Android phone, or—ideally—a specially secured smartphone issued by the intelligence community. But given the White House’s disinterest in policing Trump’s Android during the early months of his presidency, it’s unclear what would have prompted a sudden technology upgrade. (One potential hint: WikiLeaks released details about classified CIA hacking tools the day before Trump’s Android tweets went dark for a couple weeks.)