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What Donald Trump's tweets reveal about his sleeping patterns

Trump has claimed he only needs four hours of sleep a night. His tweets suggest otherwise. 

Donald Trump has claimed he sleeps only four hours a night because of the "long hours" he's working as president of the United States. 

However, a scientist from Germany has modelled Donald Trump's sleeping patterns via his tweets and discovered that Trump is likely exaggerating. 

Till Roenneberg, a professor of chronobiolgy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich analysed 12,000 tweets sent from @realDonaldTrump from December 2015 to March this year, to estimate what times Trump went to bed and woke up. 

He hoped to shine a light to the public the wealth of data that we unwittingly reveal to the world about ourselves on the internet, but also show how useful such information can be to data-hungry scientists.

To determine when the account was actually used by Trump himself, Roenneberg had to characterise the types of usage on the account from different devices. The activity on @realDonaldTrump as Roenneberg's paper published in Cell Current Biology highlights, can be split into three categories: web clients on work computers, an iPhone and an Android phone.

Roenneberg found that the Android device was used most often in the early mornings and late evenings. The activity also showed "strong seasonality" which means that Twitter activity from this account followed when the sun set and rose throughout the 27 months of activity that was analysed. 

Usage on the iPhone showed no such seasonality which Roenneberg concluded meant that it was used by multiple users. The Twitter activity on work computers predictability followed work hours. Tweets coming from these devices, Roenneberg concluded, must be by multiple people from Trump's team. 

As the Twitter activity on the Android device was so predictable, it can be safely assumed that it was controlled by one user - that user being the 45th president of the United States. This has also been determined via less scientific methods prior by those who have observed that the account's angrier tweets come from Android devices

Interestingly, Roenneberg found that Trump's Android device sent plenty of tweets during the night in the later months of 2015, but "then decreased nocturnal tweet activity gradually to a point that it was mostly absent over the past year". It appears that the Trump has been having fewer restless nights since becoming president.

Roenneberg was able to figure out when Trump was asleep by determining when his Twitter activity on his Android device was minimal. Nearly 70 percent of his "tweet-less times" were between 10pm and 6am. 

Assuming that it takes 15 minutes for one to fall asleep, and another 15 minutes to wake up, Roenneberg estimated that Trump sleeps for roughly six and a half hours. Lying Trump. What a shock! 

The next steps would be determine if Trump only tweets "Sad!" in the mornings due to feelings of melancholy and "fire and fury" at 10 minutes past dinner-time as his chefs are late and he is hangry. Future historians may even be able to ascertain whether Trump was sleep-deprived when he declared nuclear war. 

Unfortunately, since Trump joined the iPhone bandwagon in March 2017, it has been more difficult to determine whose activity on the account is Trump's and whose belong to his team.

Or as Trump would say - Sad!

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How student survivors of the Florida school shooting are using social media to demand change

“As teenagers, we know how to use social media and we know how to take advantage of it.”

Before 14 February 2018, Delaney Tarr used Twitter to share pictures of dogs, screenshots from her favourite Netflix shows and drawings by artists she admired. After a gunman murdered 14 of her classmates and three of her teachers at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the 17-year-old's online presence changed. Since then, her Twitter profile has been made up of moving tributes to her dead classmates, strongly worded arguments with Fox News presenters, and a hashtag: #NeverAgain.

“When the tragedy happened, we realised that this was how we were going to reach as many people as possible,” Tarr told me when we spoke on the phone.

“Even if you look at the current president of the United States, he uses Twitter in a way that is unprecedented. And as teenagers, we know how to use social media and we know how to take advantage of it.”

Tarr is one of hundreds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School students using Twitter to make their voices heard. As well as #NeverAgain, they have set up crowdfunding pages to pay for marches and memorials and organised a national school walkout day (planned for 20 April).

During the attack, many students tweeted about what was unfolding in real time – with 14-year-old Aidan Minoff posting pictures from underneath the desk where he was hiding. “My school is being shot up and I am locked inside. I’m fucking scared right now,” he wrote in a tweet shared more than 20,000 times. Many more students uploaded videos of the shooting to the messaging app Snapchat.

In a tweet (since deleted) sent on the day of the attack, right-wing pundit Mark Dice criticised the students. “Someone tell Generation Z kids that in the event of a school shooting, they should call 911 instead of posting video of it on Snapchat,” he wrote.

This ridiculous comment was informed by the assumption that social media is inherently frivolous. It isn’t. “I’ve seen all the criticism and I’ve seen some valid points saying that it is too sensitive to see those videos,” Delaney Tarr said, referring to Snapchat clips showing bodies on the floor, pools of blood, and students cowering in fear. “But, ultimately, they’re giving you an experience that nobody has had before.

“You’re hearing the gunshots that we heard, you’re seeing the blood that we had to see. It is something that will haunt you just as it is haunting all of us.”

Nikhita Nookala is a 17-year-old MSD student who tweeted from her hiding place: “im in a closet”. “It was the only thing I could do at the time,” she told me over email. Along with her terrified peers, she received frequent Snapchat updates from her friends elsewhere in the school. “Images were the only thing that we had as proof that our friends were safe,” she told me. “And now those same images can be used as evidence in court against the man that killed our friends.” On the day of the shooting, Nookala also sent a tweet to Donald Trump. “Why was a student able to terrorize my school mr president,” she wrote in reply to Trump’s message offering “condolences” to the victims.

More than 660,000 people have seen her tweet, while five million watched an online video of a SWAT team evacuating a classroom at the school, posted online by a pupil’s sister. In it, one child’s hands can be seen trembling uncontrollably. Will any of this make a difference to America’s gun control debate? “Ultimately, I think people are more willing to change when they can see the damage that has been done,” Delaney Tarr said. Nikhita Nookala agreed: “Having our voices heard is the most important thing we can do right now.”

Snapchat videos will undoubtedly provoke emotions in a way that the traditional media cannot. But some of the posts are hugely affecting not only because they show bloodied bodies, but because they remind us the victims are children, using emojis to illustrate their pain.

“My teacher died,” reads part of a text message exchange between two brothers trapped in the school. One brother screenshotted the texts and gained 150,000 retweets when he later shared them on Twitter. “Don’t do anything,” one brother wrote to the other. Then: “Don’t DO ANYTHING”. After getting no reply, he sent another message: “You understand?”. Then another. “Matthew.” Another: “Please answer me.”

To read these texts is to feel the moment-by-moment agony of the students. This wouldn’t be possible without the mobile phones that allowed them to communicate and, later, to share their fraught exchanges.

It could be argued that these messages were too raw and personal to share widely, manifestations of a society obsessed with personal revelation and putting everything online. I disagree: sharing these texts is an inspirational act that allows the entire world to feel the students’ pain.

On 24 November 2017, thousands of people were caught in a moment of collective panic at Oxford Circus in the West End of London. The Tube station was evacuated and police swarmed the streets in response to what turned out to be a false terror alarm. My boyfriend’s offices are located just off Oxford Circus; we used Facebook Messenger to stay in contact during the chaos. Because I didn’t share our exchanges on social media, they are ours alone. But by taking their most intimate messages and posting them online, the Florida high school students can shock us out of our usual desensitised response to all-too-common American mass shootings.

“We’re not going to be quieted,” Delaney Tarr said, explaining that Twitter will give students such as her a voice after the news cycle has moved on from the latest act of gun violence. “We’re not going to be silent. We’re going to keep fighting for this until there is some change.” 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 22 February 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Sunni vs Shia