Saturday 17 February 2018

Revealed: How many of President Donald Trump's tweets include questionable claims?

Donald Trump used Twitter to accuse his predecessor Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Donald Trump used Twitter to accuse his predecessor Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Stephen Jones, Press Association Social Media Editor

NEARLY a quarter of Donald Trump's tweets have contained unproven or disputed claims since the businessman became president, an analysis by the Press Association has found.

The study looked at whether statements made in tweets from the president's @realDonaldTrump account could either be backed up by publicly-available evidence, or had been disputed by other news outlets.

It found that, of 447 tweets sent from the account since he took office, 108 contained claims that were either unproven or disputed - a total of 24.2%.

The president's penchant for questionable claims appeared to peak around the middle of February, a month in which a series of damaging reports emerged relating to his team's alleged communications with Russia during the election campaign.

In that month, President Trump tweeted 37 disputable claims, according to the PA analysis - including 12 in the week of security adviser Michael Flynn's resignation over suggestions he covered up talks with Kremlin officials.

Of those, six appeared to directly defend his team's conduct in the Russia scandal, while five specifically contained the phrase "fake news".

"This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign," he tweeted on February 15, just hours after Mr Flynn's departure.

He added two days later: "The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story - RUSSIA. Fake news!"

At the start of April, amid further pressure over the Russia allegations, the Press Association noted 13 questionable claims in Mr Trump's tweets - the highest week of his presidency.

All but two of these related either to Russia or to unproven allegations of surveillance against the president and his team.

Another peak came as President Trump tweeted unfounded claims that he had his "wires tapped" by predecessor Barack Obama in the run-up to the election.

In a string of four tweets sent in the early hours of March 4, Mr Trump made the claims which he later disowned - telling a press conference two weeks later that he was merely quoting a "very talented" Fox News reporter, Andrew Napolitano.

Mr Napolitano had cited three unnamed sources claiming that the surveillance had been carried about by British intelligence agency GCHQ, at the request of President Obama.

Fox later said it had "no evidence of any kind" that President Trump had been subject to such surveillance.

The only week during which the PA analysis found no questionable claims was between April 8 and 14 - the seven days following his decision to launch air strikes on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical gas attack that had been launched there by the country's government.

Mr Trump has been an avid Twitter user since he joined the social network in 2009, sending almost 35,000 tweets during the last eight years from his @realDonaldTrump account. But what can be learned from his tweets since taking the US presidency?

The businessman's personal account, @realDonaldTrump, has gained an impressive eight million followers since Inauguration Day on January 20, taking the total to 28.3 million.

The President has sent 447 tweets from the account over the period, receiving 44,471,072 'favourites' from other Twitter users - an average of over 99,000 favourites per tweet.

The tweets sent between the inauguration and April 25 were retweeted a total of 9,461,563 times - averaging just over 21,000 retweets per tweet.

Commentators have long noted that Mr Trump is most prolific in the morning, often while watching the Fox News Channel morning talk show Fox And Friends - an observation which the data supports.

The busiest hours on the @realDonaldTrump timeline are between 6am and 9am - the exact hours during which Fox And Friends airs. The show's official Twitter account, @foxandfriends, was the account most retweeted by President Trump in his first 100 days.

Another clear trend visible from the account's activity was a marked difference in tone depending on whether the tweet was sent from an iPhone or an Android handset.

It is widely believed that tweets showing from an Android phone were sent by the President himself, while those from an iPhone were sent by members of his team.

The last tweet from an Android device was sent on March 25, but an analysis of all tweets until that point shows 50% more exclamation marks in tweets from Android devices and more than three times as many mentions of "fake news".

Statistically, the tweets sent via Android were found to have a greater level of engagement - averaging more than 130,000 favourites and 28,000 retweets each.

By comparison, iPhone-sent tweets garnered 81,000 favourites and 17,000 retweets each, on average.

Some other facts and figures from @realDonaldTrump since his January 20 inauguration include:

- Mondays and Fridays are his busiest days of the week on Twitter, with the fewest tweets sent on Sundays.

- He has used 252 exclamation marks, more than one every other tweet.

- He has mentioned "fake news" 30 times, Fox 23 times, America 21 times, Russia 20 times, Obama 19 times, China 10 times and Mexico four times.:: "Great" is the most popular single word used in his tweets, featuring 80 times.

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