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Did the Department of Defense order a precision subtweet of Donald Trump?

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As America enters its first official long day’s journey into night of the Trump Administration, already it has been met by a global demonstration of resistance, with millions taking to the streets across all seven continents to declare that they will not be cowed by Trump, his irony-Nazi minions, or his typically chintzy rebranding of “facts.” However, since all those roiling masses of people weren’t in a Saturday Night Live skit, it’s not like Trump particularly cared. If you really want to get Donald Trump’s attention, you need to attack him directly at the source of his power—Twitter—where he might actually notice. It’s a strategy that was recently undertaken by the National Park Service, which had its official Twitter account briefly shut down by White House officials after retweeting photos and articles that criticized Trump. And it’s one that the Department of Defense may have adopted through a subtweet, the stealth drone strike of the social media world.

Here’s the message the Department of Defense tweeted out this morning, which some have interpreted as a sly dig at Trump’s behavior—for reasons that are clearly based on their own prejudices, and certainly not some objective truth (the nature of which is now under administrative review).


The tweet links to a study released on January 19 on how social media postings can offer a window into one’s mental health, one ostensibly aimed at preventing suicide among military service members. “For instance, social media posts that convey messages of despair or a pattern of increasing hopelessness over a period of time could spur outreach from peers, who in turn can help connect a friend or teammate to commanders and professionals,” the report suggests. And although you could interpret some allusion there to Trump—whose messages of hopelessness and despair did get him the professional help he needed in order to turn them into a winning campaign—there’s nothing explicitly about, say, what spending your first weekend as leader of the free world lashing out over TV ratings reveals about your mental state.


In fact, the research on this study dates back years, way back to when private citizen Trump was complaining about TV ratings, and nobody thought to intervene when it might have made a difference. So no, there’s nothing here concretely linking this message, coincidentally timed for Trump’s first day in office, to Trump himself. And as the DoD can tell you, plausible deniability matters.

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