This story is over 5 years old.

Social Media

I Have Questions About Trump's Accidental Retweets

For example, how accidental were they?
Image by author via Ian MacNicol/Getty and Tom Pennington/Getty

On Tuesday morning, the president's Twitter behavior was curious, even by Trumpian, "modern day presidential" standards. A little after 7 AM, he retweeted a photoshopped cartoon of a "Trump train" plowing down a CNN reporter, captioned "Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain." Minutes later, he was mashing the RT button again, this time on a response tweet to a story about Joe Arpaio, Arizona's disgraced anti-immigrant sheriff, who Trump is reportedly considering pardoning—the catch is that the Twitter user was calling Arpaio a "fascist."


Screenshot via Olivia Nuzzi/Twitter

Weird, right?

Both retweets were removed from Trump's feed minutes later, and a White House official claims they were accidental. But as an avid Twitter user, I have some questions about how you end up "accidentally" retweeting something onto your page.

Yes, mistakes happen. I'm sure my long, graceful fingers have slipped before, and at least a quarter of my tweets have typos. But unlike Trump, I am not the president. Also, Twitter makes it difficult for a user to accidentally retweet something because you have to click twice in order to do so.

After you press retweet, Twitter asks you whether you want to quote tweet or retweet, meaning anyone has to tap twice in order to retweet anything.

"I don't recall ever retweeting something I didn't mean to RT. Because that takes an extra step," Reply All host Alex Goldman told me. "You have to press retweet and then confirm. You'd have to be a real numbskull to do it accidentally."

Other journalists, like New York's Olivia Nuzzi, admitted they have likely fallen victim to an accidental retweet but couldn't remember any specific instance—likely because whatever message they ended up retweeting wasn't a tacit call for violence against CNN reporters.

Twitter's interface is messy, with old tweets and conversations you aren't involved in appearing next to relevant and timely tweets. I have no idea what Trump's timeline looks like, but regardless, he checks his mentions more often than is healthy. I can imagine him holding his phone in his weatherbeaten hands, scrolling through his cesspool of replies, looking for a nice tweet among the verified accounts calling for his impeachment and reminding him of his decreasing approval rating.


Maybe his thumb slips, twice? Maybe one of those mistaken retweets just happens to be along the lines of an anti-CNN image he sent out last month? Maybe?

I am by no means suggesting the retweets were on purpose. If it was an accident, the question we should be asking is why can't the president properly use his favorite social network? Shouldn't that be the one thing he's actually good at? A competent chief executive might be too much to ask for, but how about a president who doesn't "accidentally" send out a message implying he's into fascism?

Regardless of intent, the fact remains, in the era of Trump retweets are without a doubt endorsements.

Follow Eve Peyser on Twitter.