Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
the national interest

Trump Lawsuit Says He’s Too Addicted to Twitter to Make Rational Decisions

Also, he wants to get back on Twitter.

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

One thing Donald Trump is known for is a refusal to abide by contracts he has agreed to. Over his decades in business, he has stiffed hundreds of contractors and skipped out on creditors, sometimes concocting wild legal theories to justify his crookedness. (Trump famously countersued Deutsche Bank for $3 billion, claiming it caused the global financial crisis, thus relieving him of his obligation to repay his loan.)

Another thing Trump is known for is his compulsive tweeting. Trump’s campaign and presidential aides devoted a large share of his political career begging him not to tweet, or to tweet less, or at least to let somebody spell-check his tweets before he sends them. Trump’s addiction to Twitter runs so deep that even the most sycophantic Republicans will often concede that his microblogging habit is one thing they would change about his otherwise unblemished presidency.

These two traits have come together in hilarious fashion in Trump’s most recent lawsuit. Trump is challenging his ban from Twitter and, in this filing, requests that the case be heard in Florida rather than in San Francisco. His lawyers say the case needs to be heard near his home because his “access to resources to conduct extensive litigation in Northern California are limited.” (Apparently Trump’s financial situation is pretty dire.)

The problem, Trump’s lawyers recognize, is that the terms of service Trump agreed to bind him to holding any legal battles in Northern California. So they are making the case that these terms of service are invalid. The argument they came up with is that Twitter is so addictive that Trump had no choice but to accept the terms of service:

Whistle blowers, psychologists and tech ethicists have gone on the record to document that social media companies intentionally engineer their software to be addictive, and to create dependency among their Users. … social media is engineered such that it “preys on the most primal parts of your brain. The algorithm maximizes your attention by hitting you repeatedly with content that triggers your strongest emotions— it aims to provoke, shock, and enrage.” (Ex. D.) Defendant has adopted a number of the intentionally manipulative techniques first employed by Facebook, including the “infinite scroll,” the “like button” and algorithmically tailored content.

The total immersion that Defendant seeks to achieve on the part of its Users leads to a dependency that alters the relative bargaining positions of Defendant and those Users. Thus, even when Defendant prompts its Users to review its updated TOS, Defendant knows that its Users are dependent on its services and more than likely than not to accept its changes, whatever they may be.

Twitter is so compulsively addictive that it grabs hold of you, leaving you completely unable to enter into a legal contract as a rational adult. It created “dependency that alters the relative bargaining positions of Defendant and those Users.” Those Users will simply agree to any condition that lets them get their stubby little fingers on that tweet button in the next few seconds.

That Trump has an addiction to Twitter so overpowering that he can’t make rational decisions seems like a good argument for keeping him off the site. Somehow, his lawyers have turned it into an argument to get him back on.

Trump Lawsuit: Trump Too Twitter-Addicted to Think Clearly