President Trump has decided that it is important that he keep tweeting from his personal Twitter account because it allows him to speak directly to the American people outside of the filter of the mainstream media, by which he means the media’s pesky insistence on fact-checking his comments and including unflattering news in analysis of his presidency. Over the weekend, Trump took this defense of his social-media use to a new place: Not only is his tweeting perfectly fine for a president, but it is defining what it means to be presidential.
In a sense, this is probably true, for better or worse.
But Trump’s defense of his tweeting depends largely on the idea that he’s unusually skilled at social media, playing the strings of Twitter like the first-chair violinist at the New York Philharmonic.
What if, instead, Trump’s not that great at Twitter? What if … Barack Obama is better?
Allow us to present that case.
Overall, Trump’s two accounts — his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, and his presidential one, @POTUS — get more retweets in a month than Obama’s (@BarackObama and @POTUS44, respectively). (We’re using retweets as a metric here for two reasons. First, it’s accessible data. Second, it captures one aspect of the point of social media: social interaction.) Trump has used @POTUS only since January, since that was when he was inaugurated. Obama has used only @BarackObama since then, retaking the account from the advocacy organization Organizing for Action, which had been renting the account during his two terms in office. (The @POTUS44 account is an archive of Obama’s official White House tweets while in office.)