Javier Milei

Phone in hand, Argentina's President Javier Milei has become a social media junkie who tears into opponents, shares bizarre memes, vents and retweets with a gusto that has seen him dubbed an online "troll."

Milei's frenetic online behavior evokes that of former US president Donald Trump in his social media heyday, but is "a little more erratic," said Ernesto Calvo, an Argentine political scientist specializing in communications at the University of Maryland.

Milei, 53, took office three months ago after a colorful election campaign in which he waved around a live chainsaw, referred to himself as "the lion," and insulted world leaders.

After getting down to the serious business of governing and trimming state spending to the bone, Milei has concentrated his bombastic outbursts on social media.

Since taking office on December 10, he has liked 14,000 posts, retweeted over 4,000 and made 111 of his own posts, according to a count by La Nacion newspaper.

"I use social media at breakfast, lunch, and at night," Milei said in a recent interview with the LN+ broadcaster. "When I am traveling I get a bit more intense."

During a February visit to Washington, where he took part in a conservative conference, Milei retweeted more than 1,100 posts -- including more than 100 about his meeting with Trump.

He has used his social media platforms, such as X and Instagram, to unleash expletives against lawmakers who did not back his economic reforms, calling them "rats" and publishing their names and photos.

After the governor of southern Chubut province, Ignacio Torres, threatened to cut oil supplies over funding reductions, Milei shared and liked various memes about him.

In one, Torres's face had been superimposed on that of a woman in a scene from a pornographic movie.

Milei also liked a post showing an edited image of Torres with the features of a person with Down Syndrome.

The Down Syndrome Association of Argentina (ASDRA) released a statement rejecting the move, and recalled that Milei had previously used a pejorative term about people with the genetic condition as an insult.

"A president cannot endorse violent speeches and criminal practices," said Amnesty International Argentina about the posts.

"Milei embodies the profile of the influencer troll in tune with current digital culture," sociologist Silvio Waisbord wrote in an essay published this month in the Anfibia magazine.

"Trolls humiliate others, adversaries and anyone they come across. They are provocateurs who enjoy insulting and belittling. They traffic in irony and sarcasm that reflect feeling superior to their targets," he added.

Milei is also given to self-aggrandizement, describing himself as "the best president in history" and publishing an AI-produced photo of his face on the Statue of Liberty.

A survey by the Opinaia consulting firm showed Milei's popularity had fallen from 59 percent to 52 percent since taking office.

"The question is whether he can govern with such a violent discourse against politics," the political scientist Ernesto Calvo told AFP.

"If his popularity drops, if his political position weakens, if at some point he needs one of those actors" he has insulted, "the political cost will be magnified enormously."