The Three Sources of @realDonaldTrump
There’s a lot more information buried inside a tweet than you see on the screen when you load up someone’s tweet, which you access through the twitter API. One of the pieces of hidden data is what program was used to send the tweet. Some examples are predictable, like “Twitter for Websites,” “Twitter for iPhone,” “Twitter for Android.” Some are not, like “TwitLonger” or “Periscope.”
Back in Aug 2016, people started proposing that there were two different people tweeting from the @realDonaldTrump account: Trump and staffers. Data-scientist David Robinson wrote a very extensive article called “Text analysis of Trump’s tweets confirms he writes only the (angrier) Android half,” in which he shows that there are undeniable differences between the tweets sent from “Twitter for Android” and all the other sources (mostly iPhone and from a web browser).
For example, the ones from the Android phone are a lot angrier and negative. Robinson used a very sophisticated method of testing for 10 different moods in addition to sentiment. One of his conclusions is that the Android tweets used “about 40-80% more words related to disgust, sadness, fear, anger, and other ‘negative’ sentiments than the iPhone account does.”
The Atlantic went a little further into the weeds after Robinson’s article came out, showing that as the campaign went into high gear, fewer tweets came from the Android phone:
which agrees with reports that his campaign staff were clamping down on how often he sent out tweets himself.
Trump has been using some variant of an Android phone for years. So we assume that any tweet from an Android phone was made by Trump himself. And since the sentiment analyses of tweets posted from iPhones and web browsers are statistically different, we further posit that these tweets came from one of his staff.
Just after the inauguration, Trump took over the @POTUS twitter handle as well. The case is not as clear in the hours following that transfer what phones he is or is not using. We will update these pages and our analyses as the data flow in to us.