Editorial: Twitter should mind its business

Before people read [the Madison Park Times] in print, they have the option of checking out most of our stories online. We make sure to push those stories through our social media accounts. Twitter is probably our best bet of reaching readers on the go.

Every journalist is on Twitter. It’s not only a way for us to share news, but also to sort through our feeds and find out about events, new businesses, local concerns and the latest online rantings of a geriatric madman who also happens to be our president.

We, like millions of Americans, start our morning off by rolling over in bed, picking up our phones and making a quick check to see if Donald Trump has managed to declare war with just 280 characters. If we’re lucky, he’s just ranting about CNN or Chuck and Nancy or some MAGA lie about tax reform.

Somehow, this is the America we now live in, where a terrible businessman and equally sad reality TV celebrity is now president and, better than any one bad policy or opinion, is infamous for being among the biggest trolls and bullies on Twitter.

Time after time, Donald Trump has attacked the media, politicians, used his undeserved prestige to sell products, act as the official TV guide for Fox News and, oh yeah, threatened nuclear warfare with North Korea.

While North Korea and South Korea have plans to work on their relationship ahead of the upcoming Winter Olympics, Trump is poking his unhinged counterpart on the other side of the world.

Kim Jong Un claimed in his New Year’s Day address that North Korea had the ability to launch nuclear weapons, with the “entire United States” within range and “a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat.”

Despite the North Korean leader’s claim there, we can’t help but perceive a statement such as this as a threat; not an immediate threat, it’s more of a “Come at me, bro” taunt at the United States.

This is the kind of provocation one expects from a dictator, and certainly it would be beneath the leader of United States to stoop to the same level or lower, let alone to do so on Twitter.

But Trump isn’t really a leader, so we weren’t really surprised when he tweeted this: “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 and powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Excusing for the moment that the size of a button doesn’t really correlate with the destructive force of one’s nuclear capabilities, let’s all just freak out for a moment because Trump isn’t wrong. He does have the ability to launch a nuclear strike, and he’s using the “Button” for a metaphorical d**ck measuring contest via Twitter rather than addressing North Korea with the kind of diplomacy one expects in a president.

This is not the first time Trump has made threats of violence against North Korea or even suggested his Twitter followers commit acts of violence against others.

While we think threatening nuclear war should be a violation of Twitter’s policy on violent threats and glorification of violence, Twitter doesn’t agree.

Many of people have flagged this and other crazed tweets by Trump over the past year, pointing out his hate speech and threats as grounds for suspending the president’s Twitter account. You can’t make this stuff up, though Trump would accuse us and any other credible news source of doing so.

Twitter should ban Trump from using its platform for so many reasons that go beyond its policy — which has been used to suspend accounts for far less than nuclear threats — but it won’t.

While 45 keeps many of us in a near constant state of panic about the next global embarrassment we will suffer, Trump’s presidency has been defined by his Twitter account.

He has 45.7 million followers, and they represent an eclectic mix of supporters and vehement dissenters, but it keeps the tweets rolling.

Banning Trump would almost certainly result in a fiery backlash from his more adoring followers, and likely the president would find some way of retaliating with all of the government resources at his disposal.

But it would also send a clear message that Twitter abides by its policies, and formally denounces the kind of hate speech Trump champions on its platform, which is then mirrored by his base. Twitter is a company that should hold every user to the same standards and finally do something big to address the type of rampant cyberbullying that exists on its site.

We hold out no real hope that this will ever happen, but we like to think the world might be a little better off without @realDonaldTrump in it.