#ArrestTrumpNow Trending On Twitter – Is This Rhetoric Unhealthy For Democracy?
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol after a rally … [+]
The hashtag “#ArrestTrumpNow” was trending on Twitter and exceeded 200,000 tweets by Monday afternoon. It began late Sunday after American Political Action Committee MediasTouch (@MeidasTouch) posted a video contradicting a claim by former President Donald Trump that the January 6 attack on the Capitol included “peaceful people.”
Trump made that statement in an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, while also downplaying what he told supporters on Jan.
Shortly after the interview, MediasTouch, which was founded in March 2020 to stop Trump’s re-election, compiled its interview on Fox News with footage from the attack. The group also called former President Donald Trump a “domestic terrorist” and urged social media users to post the hashtag.
Social media as a propaganda tool
The question is whether the response and urge to spread the video is doing more harm than good to the nation. While Trump has remained in the spotlight since leaving office, he is not an elected official. At the same time, the former president remains blocked from Twitter, so he could not even take part in the conversation.
“These efforts are just a diversion from what needs to be done to address the country’s many problems, particularly interest in its efforts to repair infrastructure, ensure justice for minorities and protect voting rights,” warned the Technology industry analyst Rob Enderle in front of the Enderle Group.
“The efforts make legitimate criminal acts against the ex-president appear politically motivated and reduce their chances of success,” explained Enderle.
“This is worrying, but not surprising,” added Chris Haynes, Associate Professor of Political Science and National Security at the University of New Haven.
The fact that it’s so widespread shows that many social media users may agree, but a lot of the news on Twitter was also aimed at Republicans in general. And this despite the fact that many Trump voters have also expressed their outrage over the attack on the Capitol and our democracy. It seems that such rhetoric could make it difficult for a deeply divided nation to heal – and it really does feel like you are either with us or against us.
“These kinds of comments from the extremes exacerbate the polarization we are currently seeing,” warned Haynes. “As much as it motivates Biden supporters, it will also affect many Trump supporters who may feel so far removed from the Democrats on these issues. Social media really carries the risk of exacerbating this polarization. “
The X factor amplifies
It is now all too common for politicians to engage in really small arguments on social platforms instead of talking things out of them. What’s also noteworthy, says Haynes, is that the divide really isn’t that great, but social media could make it seem like a huge divide.
“We keep seeing that the members of the different parties can agree on the content – but still we have such a deadlock,” noted Haynes. “There’s this X-Factor – that they just don’t like each other. This is also reflected in the public, where voters just don’t like the other side. This is becoming increasingly common to us through political information and disinformation campaigns. “
This also applies if the two sides are basically in agreement.
“Look at a problem with the infrastructure,” added Haynes. “Both parties should agree that we need to resolve this, but it is the reluctance that breaks the trust of the two sides to make a deal. Social media then intensifies this aversion and reaches a boiling point. “
Court of public opinion
The other consideration is whether it is right for a group to use social media as a platform to demand that someone be locked up. This is the court of public opinion, not a courtroom, but it should be worrying as it is a digital version of mob justice.
It may seem like this will help Biden’s agenda, but it doesn’t do anything, warned Enderle.
“These attacks work against Biden’s agenda, offer Biden’s opponents a rally of unfair treatment and make it less likely that the desired outcome of the incarceration of the ex-president will be successful,” added Enderle. “You don’t put anyone in jail; at least that’s not how the legal system should work.”
The question then is what the platforms should do to stop this discourse.
“They can try to do what they are doing is completely ineffective,” suggested Haynes. “When they try to tap into things like that, it borders in a way on the demolition culture. This type of social media campaign could potentially motivate voters, but it should be viewed as bad for the process and progress in general. And for democracy, we should see that as a real concern. “