The president is reportedly not pleased with what is arguably his favorite social network. Forget alleged censorship of conservatives, or Americans being exposed to foreign political ads. Instead, the main beef is about his own follower count. The Washington Post reports President Trump talked with Twitter's Jack Dorsey privately about followers — his followers.
That echoes the public attack that the president made on, yes, Twitter earlier Tuesday. Trump wrote that Twitter doesn't "treat [him] well as a Republican" in a message posted before his meeting with Dorsey.
"Very discriminatory, hard for people to sign on," Trump continued. Constantly taking people off list. Big complaints from many people. Different names-over 100 M....But should be much higher than that if Twitter wasn’t playing their political games."
According to The Post, which cited a person with direct knowledge of the meeting, the conversation "focused on Trump’s concerns that Twitter quietly, and deliberately, has limited or removed some of his followers." The Post also reported that Trump has heard from other concerned conservatives who have lost followers, too. Bustle reached out to the White House, which declined to comment.
Dorsey responded with the same explanation that Twitter has long given publicly, that the number of followers fluctuates as the company deletes spam accounts, The Post reported. The Twitter CEO also reportedly pointed out to Trump that he himself has lost followers in the past for the same reason.
Publicly, Trump was positive about the meeting. "Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter," Trump posted with a photo from the Oval Office. "Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!"
That was a big departure from earlier, when he posted, "No wonder Congress wants to get involved - and they should. Must be more, and fairer, companies to get out the WORD!"
Dorsey responded to the positive message. "Thank you for the time," he wrote in a reply to the president's tweet. "Twitter is here to serve the entire public conversation, and we intend to make it healthier and more civil. Thanks for the discussion about that."
In a statement, Twitter addressed what the conversation touched. "They discussed Twitter's commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 US elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis," the statement, as provided to Al-Jazeera, read.
According to Wired, Twitter policy head Vijaya Gadde emailed all Twitter staff about the meeting on Tuesday. Dorsey then reportedly responded to that email addressing why he chose to meet with President Trump.
"Some of you will be very supportive of our meeting the president, and some of you might feel we shouldn’t take this meeting at all," Dorsey reportedly wrote in the follow-up. "I believe it’s important to meet heads of state in order to listen, share our principles and our ideas."
The meeting might have helped mollify Trump for the time being, but there's no guarantee that Congress won't act and pass a law regulating social media companies. In the fall, Bloomberg reported that legislators from both sides of the aisle seemed amenable to doing just that —though Trump's follower count likely won't be addressed in any legislation.