The president’s bad tweets are the stuff of slideshows and masterposts. They’ve inspired memes and cultural catchphrases, and some are so artfully inane that they could even be called poetry: “The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” Donald Trump tweeted, memorably, on Cinco de Mayo in 2016.
Others are scarier. There was the time he declared that a tweet could “serve as notification” that the United States would counter any military attack from Iran, “perhaps in a disproportionate manner.” There was the time he joined in on the wild speculation that the Clintons had ordered Jeffrey Epstein murdered. There were the Obama conspiracy theories, one after another, throughout Trump’s entire presidency and well before it. There was the grotesque promise that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump’s “worst tweet ever,” according to one Washington Post columnist, was the one he posted as he was leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being treated for COVID-19 in October: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Now, just a few weeks later, he has outdone himself, with baseless claim after baseless claim that the election has been stolen from him. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” he tweeted less than an hour before every major network would declare the opposite. “WE WILL WIN!” he tweeted four days later, undeterred.
Through it all, Twitter never banned Trump. It didn’t even suspend him. Instead, the company codified its reluctance to remove Trump into policy, writing out an exemption to its rules for “world leaders, candidates, and public officials.” Incitement to violence, hate speech, targeted harassment: Offenses that would get others removed from Twitter were acceptable from Trump and other politicians. “It would take something really deplorable for a ban, and I highly doubt even Trump is that stupid,” an anonymous Twitter employee told The Verge in 2017. (There are some rules that are so hard-line that even Trump isn’t exempt. That includes things such as doxing, promoting terrorism, and sharing revenge porn.)