A mugshot of Donald Trump taken at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office on August 24, 2023.
Fulton County Sheriff’s Office
Donald Trump’s still got it, it seems, but so too does X.The former president broke his hiatus from the app formerly known as Twitter to post his mugshot.It’s a tacit recognition that X is still the place that moves the internet.
Just hours after being arrested on Thursday in Fulton County, Georgia, as a result of 13 felony charges, there was one place Donald Trump had to go to share the news: his old pal Twitter.
A lot has changed since the 45th president last posted there on January 8, 2021. One, it’s now called X, following a directive by Elon Musk. Two, it has repeatedly been on the verge of collapse, also as a result of Musk’s questionable decision-making. And three, Trump released his own app for shitposting after a ban of almost two years.
Still, none of that was enough to stop Trump from ending his hiatus on the former bird app by posting his mugshot there. A single image of Trump wearing a scowl, with a link to a fundraiser for his 2024 presidential campaign, has racked up almost 90 million views in under nine hours.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2023
The simplicity of the singular post was Trump’s way of showing that he hasn’t lost any of the showbiz energy that defined his first presidential run as he prepares to compete for a second. But it also shows X hasn’t lost any of its showbiz energy either.
Since Musk’s $44 billion takeover, legitimate questions have swirled around the future of X, since the platform has struggled to retain revenue-generating advertisers, suffered several outages, and faced newfound threats from copycat apps seeking to capitalize on its turmoil.
But in Trump’s decision to post his mugshot to X, there is a tacit recognition that X is still the place that moves the internet, despite all of its serious shortcomings.
During his stint as President, Trump earned the nickname of tweeter-in-chief because of his obsessive tweeting habits, which kept political rivals, international allies and adversaries, media personalities, and everyday citizens alert to Twitter.
The possibility of a world-changing development that could alter the course of an international dispute or move markets always seemed to be a few characters away.
Even below the rank of presidency, tweets would offer the possibility of something significant: the announcement of a new scientific breakthrough, the passing of someone well-known, a front-row seat to a public spat.
It’s the power to move the internet by being the place where others first experience events of groundbreaking proportions that X’s rivals have struggled to emulate.
Threads, Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt at copying the original Twitter formula, has struggled to retain users precisely for this reason, with daily active users down 80% by the end of July to just 8 million, data from SensorTower found.
It’s unclear if Trump will start posting more frequently to X or go back to posting as usual on Truth Social. Either way, it’s clear that X remains the place that makes the internet go round.