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Trump is the face of Twitter in Japanese ad campaign

Commentary: The world's most famous Twitterer appears on ads for the company's mobile apps. Is this wise?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


A symbol of our times?

Gabe Meline/Twitter screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Just a couple of days ago, President Donald Trump told the Financial Times: "Without tweets, I wouldn't be here."

I don't think he meant that he wouldn't be alive. Rather, it was that he wouldn't be president.

But where would Twitter be without Trump? Would it be prospering or languishing?

Twitter seems firmly of the belief that Trump is a good thing for its brand. I judge this from an ad campaign the company is currently running in Japan.

The posters feature a large portrait of the US president speaking into a microphone and pointing at, who knows, a boisterous protester or a bucket of KFC.

The large hashtag on the ad translates to #TrumpAdministration, and in the small blue box with the Twitter logo are the words: "There is a now you do not know." This, presumably, is a suggestion that the news instantly appears first on Twitter.

There is no greater news in the world than every word, gesture and swing of a 9-iron performed by Trump. Some might struggle, however, with the notion of the world's most famous Twitterer being seen in advertising for the brand.

The president's tweets aren't always the most temperate. Some might feel that he represents precisely the sort of angry trolling that Twitter is desperate to control. Indeed, last year Twitter declared that it would ban him -- or any other government official -- who broke its hate speech and language rules.

These define abusive behavior as, for example: "If a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others" and "if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats."

Why, I hear you say, didn't the president tweet-threaten members of the so-called Freedom Caucus just a few days ago?

Twitter wouldn't be drawn on that issue. A spokesman told me, however, that the campaign is all about the things that people want to talk about. The Trump depiction is just one of the ads in this campaign. Others feature a cat that can do strange things and food that you're desperate to photograph.

This isn't, though, the first time Twitter has used Trump in advertising. Before the election it ran billboards in the US that featured the eyes of both Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Trump and Twitter are, you see, inextricably linked.

I wonder which will survive longer.

Update, 12:02 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Twitter.

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