They Dunked on Thousands of Trump Tweets. What Will They Do Now?
Donald Trump’s use of Twitter will likely be one of the most memorable parts of his one-term presidency. While most politicians filter their words through press secretaries and speech writers, Trump consistently tweets with the vigor of a pissed-off teenager who was just grounded. This has only become more true in the past week, when almost all of the President’s tweets have been accompanied by Twitter’s misinformation labels as he falsely maintains that the election was stolen from him.
But even in the early days of his presidency, Trump’s erratic tweets were scandalous enough to attract a routine stable of online commentators, or “reply guys,” who appeared in the replies of his tweets to forcefully push back against his claims. These users, like Jeff Tiedrich and Eric Garland, ended up building a following of their own thanks to their clapbacks, which often appear only minutes after Trump’s initial tweets.
With the next presidency firmly secured by Joe Biden, Trump’s days in office are numbered. So what's to become of the tweets of those who reply to him? Murray Lipp and Heidi Krassenstein, who have 32,000 and 168,000 followers, are figuring that out.
“It felt gratifying to know that all of the time and energy I had voluntarily invested in Twitter challenging Trump’s lies and propaganda in recent months had helped play a role, however small, in contributing to this great outcome,” Lipp says of the election outcome over Twitter DM.
“I feel as though four years of stress, anger, and worry were washed away in a single week,” Heidi Krassenstein says over email. (She is married to Brian Krassenstein, who also tweeted at Trump and his followers, and was suspended from Twitter along with brother Ed for “operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions,” according to Variety. They deny violating Twitter's rules.) “My intentions have always been to fact check the president and make sure his lies and hate did not propagate as far as he had hoped.”
Despite the success of voting Trump out of office, Lipp sees his role on Twitter as more important than ever thanks to Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and will continue to challenge him even when his term is over.
“If Twitter doesn’t restrict his access Trump will no doubt continue to tweet and cause mayhem,” he says. “Given the severity and pathological nature of Trump’s lying, and the impact that has on his millions of MAGA ‘followers,’ I feel a personal obligation to do my small part in challenging it publicly!”
Krassenstein echoes this sentiment.
“If [Trump’s] tweeting appears to be spreading a false narrative, then yes I may continue to fact-check him and push back at his hateful rhetoric [after his presidency],” she says. “I will continue to speak out for things I consider important to our nation and our kids' future.
On November 18, however, Krassenstein announced that her work was done, and that she is leaving Twitter and social media.
ANNOUNCEMENT (Thread): Farewell everyone. My mission here, as well as my husband's and brother-in-law's (Brian and Ed Krassenstein) was always to fact-check Trump and counter his use of social media to attack our democracy. On November 3rd, we won, America won and the world ...— Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) November 18, 2020