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This article was published on August 15, 2017

When Trump retweets you, is it an endorsement?

When Trump retweets you, is it an endorsement?
Tristan Greene
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Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Today US President Donald Trump tweeted yet another psuedo-violent cartoon directed at CNN, retweeted a person responsible for spreading the hoax that led to Pizza-gate, and managed to retweet a tweet calling himself a fascist. To say the least, his social media use paints the picture of a mercurial personality.

When @RealDonaldTrump tweets people listen. He’s no E.F. Hutton (age check!), but whether you lean left, right, or not-at-all, more people follow him on Twitter than @LilTunechi (Lil’ Wayne), @Adele, or @NBA. Again, no matter whether you like him or not, you’re getting a mixed bag.

Because he handles twitter like Ron Burgundy handles a teleprompter. He’ll tweet or retweet just about anything, often leading to a deletion and a vague-somewhat-apologetic statement from the White House. Today is no exception.

Who among us hasn’t accidentally retweeted an image showing our enemies about to be run over by a train? Most of us, but that’s not the point. And in all fairness, the person he retweeted claims that it’s not a violent image and that the train wasn’t trying to run anything over.

Good thing noone was killed in that cartoon, but mostly people are worried that it might incite more violence. Technically, though, the CNN wrestling meme wasn’t violence either right? Fake news, fake wrestling, fake outrage? It’s a lot to take in.

The second tweet, the one where Trump retweets Jack Posobiec, a guy whose Twitter feed is basically just a 24/7 anti-CNN tirade, is a little less easy to comprehend.

There’s plenty of coverage of Chicago murders in the local news (I live in Illinois), and a quick Google search will clear anyone of any disillusions concerning that. If the national media (this site included) were so inclined to cover every murder in America, we’d do nothing but cover murder.

Maybe that sounds like a cop out, perhaps we should all be outraged all the time, and that’s worth considering. But does it require retweeting the guy who, quite literally, engaged in a tactic to villify protesters involving photoshopping “RAPE MELANIA” into protest footage to create the hoax that liberals were planning violence?

So why promote Posobiec, whose other claim to fame is his incessant promotion of the hoax that Comet Pizza was housing a child-sex ring led by Hillary Clinton? This eventually paid off in gunshots when Edgar Maddison Welch walked in to the restaurant and tried to shoot open a storage closet he believed held captive children. Posobiec is a guy who is on the record with The New Yorker discussing his version of journalism:

I’m willing to walk into an anti-Trump march and start chanting anti-Clinton stuff—to make something happen, and then cover what happens.

Is a retweet an endorsement? Perhaps Trump simply uses Twitter willy-nilly and passes along anything he likes without really worrying about who he’s retweeting. Maybe he knows exactly what he’s doing.

It bears mention that former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has stated that Trump’s tweets are a part of the public record and should be considered official. Is a retweet an official statement?

Either way, he deleted the CNN train tweet, but the Prosobiec one is still on Twitter at the time of posting.

Last, but perhaps most interesting, was Trump retweeting that he, himself, was a fascist.

Certainly it wasn’t Trump’s intent to call himself a fascist, which is probably why that tweet too was deleted. This might leave us believing it’s more “he doesn’t know what he’s doing” than “he’s got some elaborate scheme here.”

No judgement here though: Donald Trump has tweeted ONLY 35,500 times — maybe he’s just getting the hang of it.

Social media can be difficult.

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