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Trump’s State of the Union Response: Social Media Glitches and Mocking Filters

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Trump’s State of the Union Response: Social Media Glitches and Mocking Filters

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Former President Donald J. Trump promised Americans a “play-by-play” of President Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday night.

That, Mr. Trump declared before the event began, would happen on “Truth Social, the real voice of America,” praising the social media platform in which he has a financial stake that would be his bully pulpit for the night.

But shortly after, that voice sputtered.

Truth Social began experiencing outages toward the beginning of Mr. Biden’s remarks, with more than 3,000 reported outages on the site by 9:30 p.m., according to Down Detector, a website that tracks user reports of web disruptions. The outages paused the barrage of derogatory posts that made up Mr. Trump’s response to Mr. Biden’s remarks, which included an unusual video that deployed Snapchat filters to mocking effect.

Mr. Biden took numerous shots at Mr. Trump, the expected Republican nominee, on Thursday night, referring to him only as his “predecessor” in an effort to highlight the stakes of the election and draw a contrast for viewers between his vision for the country and the one depicted by his all-but-certain opponent.

Mr. Biden, referencing the “American story,” spoke about how his “lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy.” Then, alluding to Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden said, “Now some other people my age see a different story — the American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That’s not me.” (Mr. Trump, whose remarks often depict a dark future for America, recently referred to the United States as a “third-world country.”)

After the event ended, Mr. Trump’s accounts on Truth Social and Instagram featured a video in which Snapchat-like filters toggled over what appeared to be Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the 2023 State of the Union.

One segment showed Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris with googly eyes and wide, menacing smiles while he discussed the Buy American Act; another gave them cowboy hats and braided hair as Mr. Biden talked about insulin caps.

Mr. Trump had assistance with his social media Thursday night and did not make the posts himself, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Throughout the night, Mr. Trump denounced Mr. Biden for taking his time greeting guests before making his way to the dais (“This is the longest walk in Presidential History”); his demeanor (“He is so angry and crazy!”); his appearance (“His hair is much better in the front than on the back!”); and his occasional cough (“Don’t shake his hand, he’s been coughing into it the entire night.”).

“This is like a shouting match, every line is being shouted,” Mr. Trump, a man often prone to making irate speeches and social media posts, wrote at one point, using all caps.

Like Mr. Trump, conservative commentators — after months of attempting to portray Mr. Biden as enfeebled and diminished — complained that Mr. Biden was overly animated.

The Biden campaign had a simple response to Mr. Trump’s response operation.

“Sad,” said Ammar Moussa, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, alongside an screenshot of Truth Social not loading.

Mr. Trump, later on Thursday night, put out a video in which he told viewers that “Crooked Joe Biden is on the run from his record, and lying like crazy to try and escape accountability for the horrific devastation he and his party have created.”

His accounts then resumed their more typical activity, posting a video fabricated from a clip of Mr. Biden eating an ice cream cone. In the video, Mr. Biden was positioned as if strolling along a flooded street while a garbage bin, decorated with an American flag, floated by in flames.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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