What we should learn from Donald's trump by Twitter

03 October 2014 -


After business mogul endures parodic frenzy on social network, is it best to look before we retweet?

Jermaine Haughton

He’s no stranger to the headlines – but this week, a famous businessman’s misstep on to a garden rake in the long grass of social media led him to threaten legal action against a Twitter user.

Celebrities are constantly asked for retweets, whether from fans trying to get questions answered, or people wanting to get their names out to the large followings of famous individuals. As such, people know they have to be imaginative to get their tweets resent. That could depend upon perfect timing, a very funny message… or playing on heartstrings.

On Monday, the account of one Philip Bradbury tweeted out to magnate and US Apprentice host Donald Trump to say: “My parents who passed away always said you were big inspiration. Can you pls RT for their memory?” Sure enough, the plea worked, and @realDonaldTrump quickly retweeted the message.

At first glance, Bradbury’s tweet seemed a genuine and emotional request. But the picture attached was in fact the wedding photo of infamous serial killers Fred and Rose West. Of course, in his defence, Trump probably wouldn’t have recognised the couple anyway as the Wests’ crimes were very much a British story. But as we’re now accustomed to on social media, once other users pointed out Trump’s blunder, a fun-poking scrum ensued. In little time, the beleaguered businessman was hit with a flurry of other RT requests, referencing various relatives while attaching sinister pictures ranging from Hitler to Darth Vader.

Trump later tweeted: “I thought I was being nice to somebody re their parents. I guess this teaches you not to be nice or trusting. Sad!” He followed up with: “Some jerk fraudulently tweeted that his parents said I was a big inspiration to them + pls RT-out of kindness I retweeted. Maybe I'll sue”.

Trump has frequently made gaffes on Twitter, and this wasn’t the first time he had people making fun of him – or his hair – on the social media platform, so perhaps he should have been more aware of the consequences.

We’ll never know whether Trump was actually trying to be nice, or just retweeting some rather sycophantic praise. But his action certainly illustrates the dangers of blindly resending someone else’s messages on social media.

On this occasion, it was probably just a brief embarrassment for the celebrity in question. But Twitter users should always be conscious of the dangers inherent in retweeting something that could be harmful to others – or even end up becoming a legal issue.

Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training

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