On Tuesday, President Trump hosted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the Oval Office for a closed-door meeting, during which the leader of the free world spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about lost Twitter followers, according to a source familiar with the conversation.
The Twitter chief, for his part, tried to reassure the president that the company’s staff merely wants his follower count to be as bot-free as possible.
This is what the most powerful person in the world was preoccupied with Tuesday.
A large percentage of the meeting, which included senior White House officials such as Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino, was spent addressing the subject of @realDonaldTrump’s follower count. The president stated his belief that he had lost some of his roughly 59 million followers in anti-Trump, anti-conservative Twitter purges, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
Dorsey, according to this knowledgeable source, had to explain to the president that like other Twitter users, @realDonaldTrump periodically loses followers when the site deletes fake or bot accounts. Dorsey even said he himself had lost followers as a result of Twitter’s efforts to delete fake accounts.
During this private gathering in the West Wing, Dorsey assured Trump that the company wants him, and everyone else on Twitter, to have only real followers, according to the source.
Trump also said he’s heard from other prominent conservatives about problems with Twitter, though he declined to name names.
The summit with Twitter’s CEO is unlikely to assuage the president’s concerns about tech giants and social media, of which he has many. Two people close to Trump previously told The Daily Beast that Trump has repeatedly griped to associates about how his predecessor, President Obama, has had more Twitter followers than he has, even though—by Trump’s own assessment—he is so much better at Twitter than Obama is.
The Washington Post first reported that the president devoted much of the White House meeting to grumbling about his Twitter followers. Earlier in the day, Motherboard broke the news that Trump and Dorsey were meeting on Tuesday.
Dorsey also used the meeting to promote Twitter’s efforts to fight opioid addiction, which include using a special emoji to promote National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. It is unclear how interested Trump was in discussing those efforts, at least compared to his time spent inquiring about the alleged purging of his followers.
Beyond confirming that the meeting had indeed occurred, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not respond to The Daily Beast’s follow-up questions as of press time.
The discussion came a few hours after early morning tweets from the president accusing Twitter of playing “political games” with his follower count and calling for congressional intervention against the company.
“Constantly taking people off list,” Trump tweeted. “Big complaints from many people.”