On Tuesday, President Trump sent out his most stunning tweet yet, in which he outright threatened nuclear war with North Korea. The threat itself was just as disturbing as the way in which it was conveyed.
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Trump used utterly childish phrasing, comparing the size of his “nuclear button” to the size of Kim Jong-un’s smaller “nuclear button.” The most dangerous weapon in the history of mankind was being wielded for little more than a playground-style feud.
What’s more, the President doesn’t have a literal button on his desk to launch a nuclear strike. The process is more complicated than that, but still, the fact that he was eager to so recklessly wield his power to end all life on earth should frighten every rational person. He tweeted:
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
In the wake of the tweet, renewed calls for Twitter to suspend the president’s account sprang up. The social media platform allows Trump to blast out whatever kneejerk thought he wants, removing a barrier of contemplation that the infamously spontaneous leader so desperately needs.
Twitter has ignored calls to suspend Trump’s account in the past. But now, presumably in light of how seriously dangerous this recent tweet was, the company has issued an official response.
In a statement on their website, Twitter avoids mentioning Trump by name and instead addresses World Leader in general. The website says they don’t want to block a given world leader based on a controversial tweet because it would prevent the world from seeing important information that they can then discuss and debate.
Their central argument seems to be that world leaders are so prominent that they have a right to say whatever they want, however they want, and that the social media site has no right or obligation to censor them.
NBC News tweeted out the full statement:
JUST IN: Twitter statement on world leaders' use of Twitter:
"Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate." pic.twitter.com/dbst8ugoIP
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 5, 2018
While Twitter tries to paint their decision as measured and the best option available, one can’t help wonder if there is a more cynical motivation at play. It’s not hard to make the argument that the website’s continued relevance on the world stage — and as such its revenues — are dependent on Trump.
The president serves as an outrage engine for Twitter, with millions of people responding — either in defense or horror — to each and every one of Trump’s inane messages. Donald keeps Twitter in the news every day.
If he were suddenly blocked from the website, many users would stop visiting as frequently, and some would stop visiting at all. There is a cold, hard, monetary incentive for the company to keep the president tweeting. Only history will tell if their decision leads to disastrous consequences for us all.