WASHINGTON – @realDonaldTrump, the Twitter feed that grew from the random musings of a reality TV star into the cudgel of an American president, has died. It was not quite 12 years old.
The provocative handle was given birth by a New York real estate tycoon who used it to help him become the 45th U.S. president. It began with a May 4, 2009, tweet promoting Donald Trump's upcoming appearance on David Letterman's show.
It died more than 57,000 tweets later, with Trump using some of his final postings on the powerful platform to commiserate with a pro-Trump mob that besieged the halls of Congress in a deadly assault as lawmakers were set to certify his defeat.
The account met its demise when Twitter announced Friday it was pulling the plug permanently on @realDonaldTrump, citing concern that Trump would use it for “further incitement of violence.” Trump retorted that he'd be "building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!"
Trump, a novice politician but seasoned salesman, realized the power of social media in ways that few other politicians did. And he wielded it with never-before-seen power to diminish his opponents, shape elections and mold reality — at least in the eyes of his supporters.
Early on, @realDonaldTrump seemed innocent enough. Its owner, who had prolific experience in marketing casinos, real estate and even Oreos, used the platform mostly to promote his books, media appearances and give friendly plugs to friends.
But as Trump began seriously toying with a White House run, it became a tool to scorch opponents and give shape to his nationalist, “America First” philosophy.
He deployed its venom equally, whether insulting celebrity enemies (Rosie O’Donnell was “crude, rude, obnoxious and dumb”) or or using xenophobia to malign a country (Britain is “trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem”).