The social media frenzy was sparked when SNL writer Katie Rich posted a tweet just after Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony saying: “Barron Trump will be America’s <<first homeschool shooter>>.”
Donald Trump’s supporter Melissa Earnest posted a number of responses on her Facebook page including one long defense of Barron Trump in which she said: “Whether you like or dislike the Trumps – this is their 10-year-old son. He is still growing and words hurt.”
Her post has already been shared several million times.
Melissa Earnest, who describes herself on Facebook as “wife, mother, businesswoman” began her defense of Barron Trump by stating: “Do you see this child? This child’s life was changed forever when his father was sworn in as President of the United States of America yesterday.
“Long before his father, President Donald J. Trump, was sworn in – this child became the center of hateful online attacks. From a certain celebrity attempting to diagnose him with a neurological disorder with her degree from <<The University of Google>> to now, when a writer from Saturday Night Live decided to tweet saying that he would be the <<first homeschool shooter>>.”
Melissa Earnest concluded: “He is a child. He is to be respected and he is off limits!”
She first posted a report about Katie Rich’s tweet asking people to “go to Saturday Night Live’s Facebook and plague their page with comments”.
Although Melissa Earnest later posted another message saying: “It was suggested to me that I put the accounts out there for the world to see so that they could be messaged over and over. May I just say that no harassing of any form will be tolerated on this page nor will I partake.”
Katie Rich’s Twitter account was later made private and there were claims that the offending tweet had been removed. But the row continued.
Former White House child Chelsea Clinton waded in with a message that simultaneously supported Barron Trump and took a thinly-veiled swipe at his father.
Chelsea Clinton was 13 when her father was inaugurated.
She was mocked by both talk show host Rush Limbaugh and Saturday Night Live for her appearance.
Similar spats about Barron Trump have been going on across social media.
On Instagram, Modern Family actress Julie Bowen posted pictures of Barron Trump, who seemed occasionally distracted during his father’s inauguration ceremony. She posted: “I think Barron is on his Gameboy. Can’t say I can blame him.”
Julie Bowen’s post attracted a blast of criticism with people also leaving abusive messages on another one of her Instagram posts featuring a picture of her child.
The actress tweeted a response to one of her critics which said: “I love that Barron is a kid being a kid. My kids would be a horror show at a public event! Just trying to keep it light.”
President Barack Obama’s daughters were no strangers to social media abuse throughout their father’s terms in office.
Two years ago Sasha, then 13, and Malia, then 16, were advised in a Facebook post to “try showing a little class”.
The author was Elizabeth Lauten, a communications director for a Republican congressman who added in a reference to the length of the girls’ skirts: “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.”
In the backlash, people tweeted Elizabeth Lauten’s boss, and the hashtag “#FireElizabethLauten” went viral. She posted an apology and later resigned.
Before the Obama girls, President George W. Bush’s 19-year-old twin daughters Jenna and Barbara made their own international headlines when they were cited by Texas police for underage drinking in 2001 when they first went to college.
In a recent letter to Sasha and Malia Obama, Jenna and Barbara Bush acknowledged the pressures that come with being in the spotlight at such young age. On leaving the White House, they reflected: “You won’t have the weight of the world on your young shoulders any more… make mistakes – you are allowed to.
“You have lived through the unbelievable pressure of the White House.”