It was just like old times. On Wednesday alone, Donald Trump issued pronouncements on a potential war with China, what Congress should do about the debt ceiling, false claims of a stolen election and his Fox News ally “the great Sean Hannity”.
But how many people noticed?
Cast into the social media wilderness, the former US president releases statements by email these days, clogging the inboxes of reporters whose attention has turned elsewhere. The era when a single tweet from Trump could electrify cable news, rattle financial markets and unnerve foreign capitals is long gone.
His post-presidential online engagement is in freefall, the Axios website reported this week, citing data from SocialFlow, an optimization platform that measures clicks from posts referred from its network of publishers.
Clicks to content about Trump dropped 37% in August and September compared with June and July, according to the findings. This represented a 50% decline since March. The decline has been inexorable since the blockbuster event of Trump’s impeachment trial in February.
In short “the former guy”, as Joe Biden calls him, who once brutally colonized social media feeds, is fading fast, a victim of the rapid news cycle he once reigned over.
Monika McDermott, a political science professor at Fordham University in New York, said: “His online presence has definitely declined due to a variety of factors. First of all, he was better on Twitter because he was punchy. He was of the moment: people followed him and got constant updates. Any other platform is very difficult for him to navigate with his style and personality.”
“In addition to that, he’s lost his position as president of the United States, and he doesn’t have a concrete election yet that he’s actually running for. The attention has been siphoned away by the current administration and what’s going on in the country and the Delta variant and all kinds of other things. He’s become to some extent irrelevant to the general populace, even though he’s still very relevant to his still very loyal followers.”
Trump had more than 88 million followers on Twitter and used it as his social media megaphone, stoking division, insulting opponents and perpetrating crimes against spelling.
But Twitter joined several other social media platforms in banning him after a mob of his supporters attacked the US Capitol on 6 January. Twitter said his tweets had violated its policy barring “glorification of violence” and were “highly likely” to encourage people to replicate what happened in the deadly insurrection.
From that moment Trump’s ability to dominate the online agenda went into a precipitous decline. He subsequently launched his own “platform”, a glorified blog that bit the dust after a month. He continues to email statements via his Save America political action committee but they are often lengthy and seldom trouble cable news chyron…