Using Twitter to attack a private citizen is about as presidential as firing spitballs, Donald Trump's critics said after he took to social media in a feud with a union chief. The president-elect is being accused of cyberbullying Chuck Jones, the United Steelworkers Local 1999 leader who criticized how he handled a deal to save jobs at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis. "When you attack a man for living an ordinary life in an ordinary job, it is bullying," Nicolle Wallace, George W. Bush's former communications director, tells the New York Times. "It is cyberbullying. This is a strategy to bully somebody who dissents. That's what is dark and disturbing." Jones says he received threats from Trump supporters after the Wednesday night tweets.
Analysts worry that Trump will continue to attack people on Twitter after he takes office, potentially stifling criticism. Such attacks are "beneath the dignity of the office," presidential historian Robert Dallek tells the Times. "He doesn't seem to understand that." In other coverage:
- At the Carrier plant, Jones' supporters condemned the tweets. "A lot of people just think it's crazy we have the president going on Twitter, going after private citizens," Carrier worker TJ Bray tells Business Insider. "Hopefully he can be more presidential."
- Jones says Trump exaggerated the number of jobs that would be saved at the plant. On Thursday, he told CNNMoney that for union members, there's another big problem with the deal: Much of the $16 million the company promised to invest in the plant will be spent on automation, meaning robots will end up doing many of the saved jobs.
- Jones tells the Washington Post that workers were "devastated" to discover they were losing their jobs after all. He says he isn't bothered by the attention. "I've been doing this job for 30 years. In that time, people have threatened to shoot me, to burn my house down. I'm not a macho man, but I’m just used to it," he says. "What I can't abide, however, is a president who misleads workers, who gives them false hope. We're not asking for anything besides opportunity, for jobs that let people provide for their families."
- BuzzFeed reports that Trump's behavior appears to be a violation of Twitter's rule that "you may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others," though the policy is unevenly enforced, and the fact that Trump is weeks away from becoming the most powerful person in the world puts Twitter in "tricky and unprecedented territory."
- The Guardian reports hours before Trump's tweets about Jones, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that his feelings about Trump's prolific use of the service were "complicated." He went for a glass-half-full approach: "I think it's an important time for the company and service," Dorsey told the Code Commerce tech conference. "And having the president-elect on our service, using it as a direct line of communication, allows everyone to see what's on his mind in the moment. I think that's interesting. I think it's fascinating."
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