Historical Moments in the Social Media Record of @realDonaldTrump from 2015–2019

Our research team at the University of Colorado Boulder has launched a series of posts that reveal how influential the @realDonaldTrump account was leading up to and during the 45th US Presidency. Like no other person online, this account had tremendous impact on not just its 88M followers—but also on the online information environment in the large.

This post is the second in a series we are running in winter/spring 2021.

This second post provides an overview of how select historical moments are indexed in the social media record of @realDonaldTrump from 2015 through 2019. Our next blog post will be dedicated to the fast-paced events of 2020 and 2021, a time period that also marks a change in @realDonaldTrump’s tweet behavior with a notable increase in his retweeting habits (as shown by the orange bars on the left side of Figure 1).

Scatterplot of 38,114 tweets/retweets by @realDonaldTrump. The X-axis = 24-hour day. The Y axis = 2015–2021.
Figure 1. @realDonaldTrump’s re/tweet frequency since January 2015,
with the number of monthly re/tweets within each year depicted in the bar chart on the left. Labels on the right call out important moments in time. Letters (A-K) mark additional historical events that appear in this account’s social media record, and are indexed in the table below and annotated with illustrative tweets.
Click here for a larger version.

Where applicable, we link to external news and Wikipedia articles that describe these events. It should also be noted that we are unable to link to any of the original tweets on twitter.com due to the suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account; we therefore present the original text as captured by TheTrumpArchive.com.

In addition to the overview we are providing in this blog series, we will point to other efforts that have depicted the impact of @realDonaldTrump. David Lazer of Northeastern set the stage for this discussion back in 2016. In addition, Trump’s Timeline of Hate, assembled by the Human Rights Campaign, highlights egregious statements @realDonaldTrump posted on Twitter.

We dedicate our next post to 2020–2021, where we will call out the many notable events in that time period before @realDonaldTrump was suspended. We are also preparing an interactive tool that will allow readers to more closely inspect the content of his tweets on their own, which will be available in future posts.

University of Colorado information scientists reporting on the influence of the 45th US President’s defunct Twitter platform