Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she writes all her own tweets, and many of them ‘never see the light of day’

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez credits social media with powering her remarkable rise.
  • The newly sworn-in New York Democrat told INSIDER that she writes all her own tweets.
  • But she deletes many she drafts in anger before they’re ever published.
  • “In my house we joke: We call it ’emptying the cart,'” she said in a recent interview. “It’s like when you go online shopping and then you’re, like, ‘Oh no, never mind,’ and you leave the website.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she writes all her own tweets.

The newly-sworn in New York Democrat has developed a reputation for delivering withering clapbacks on Twitter and bringing new transparency to government with her Instagram presence.

Her missives are beginning to rival President Donald Trump’s in engagement. But perhaps unlike the president, she doesn’t hit send on every angry tweet she drafts.

“There are so many tweets that do not see the light of day – there are so many,” she said, laughing, in a recent interview with INSIDER. “In my house we joke: We call it ’emptying the cart.’ It’s like when you go online shopping and then you’re, like, ‘Oh no, never mind,’ and you leave the website.”

Does she run her most controversial missives by her staff? “Once in a blue moon,” she says.

She recognizes that her social media mastery sets her apart from her peers.

“I was sitting next to a public official here in New York and I had pulled up my Twitter feed and I was drafting a tweet, and she was, like, ‘You write those?’ And I was, like, ‘Yeah,'” she told INSIDER.

Ocasio-Cortez credits social media with powering her rise. Since the first days of her campaign, she’s used it to develop a relationship with her followers, sharpen her message, and control the media narrative.

When she launched her bid, in May 2017, she had fewer than 300 Twitter followers. Her Facebook livestreams got a few dozen likes. But by primary day, she’d grown her Twitter following to 60,000 – more than many sitting House members.

She argues that her online presence allowed her to bypass a media largely uninterested in her race and communicate directly with voters.

“It was literally just through tweeting and getting that feedback and learning through commentary and testing messages,” she said. “Because every time you tweet something how it performs is basically like an A/B test.”

The lawmaker hit 2 million Twitter followers last weekend, far more than the other 60 freshman House Democrats combined. And she has a shiny new handle to go with it: @AOC.

She uses social media like a lifestyle blogger or a celebrity influencer. She talks like a normal person. She details the challenges and gives advice. Thousands of people tune in to watch her talk politics and make Instant Pot mac and cheese on Instagram Live.

“She’s willing to let people see her fears, and she’s willing to let people see her hesitancies, and she’s willing to let people see a process that normally is shadowed,” Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s press secretary, told INSIDER.