Former President Donald Trump isn’t waiting to be welcomed back to the largest social media platforms, and instead he announced on Wednesday that he would launch his own service: TRUTH Social. In a statement, Trump said he was excited to “send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH social very soon” and added that it would “stand up to the tyranny of big tech.”
The service is poised to be the first project of the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), which was formed after a merger with Digital World Acquisition Group. The new social media platform will reportedly have a beta soft-launch next month with invited guests, before having a mass launch in early 2022.
Already it seems that interest for another social media platform could be running high. On Thursday, new findings from cybersecurity experts VPNOverview.com reported that searches for TRUTH Social had more than seven times the searches of Snapchat, and nearly 10 times the searches of WhatsApp.
“The sheer volume of Trump’s controversial comments on social media were a defining point of his presidency,” a VPNOverview.com spokesperson said via an email.
“Now that his multiple social media bans have led him to create his own platform, it’s fascinating to see how dramatically it has gained interest over the social media apps we use so frequently: Whatsapp and Snapchat, in just one day,” added the spokesperson. “It will be interesting to monitor over the coming days and weeks whether Trump can sustain this interest, and gain enough users to make Truth Social a true rival for the Facebook-owned platforms that dominate our culture.”
A Twitter Clone
At this point based on the few provided details provided, it would appear that TRUTH Social would be closer in form and function to Twitter than Facebook.
“That is a fair observation,” explained Prof. Filippo Trevisan from the School of Communication at the American University in Washington, D.C. in a phone interview.
“This is very much going to be a copy cat or clone of Twitter in how it looks and how it positioned itself,” added Trevisan. “It could take over the space that Parler was trying to occupy until it was taken off the app stores on Apple and Google following the January 6 Capitol riots.”
TRUTH Social could also be more of a broadcast medium, much like what Twitter has evolved into in recent years.
“Since Donald Trump has been banned from the other social media platforms, he hasn’t had the opportunity to control the message the way he wants,” noted Trevisan. “This is an attempt for him to engage with an audience directly, but it could also be a way for him to be followed-up by media figures and to go back to when he was on Twitter and Facebook where he put news rooms in disarray with his oftentimes surprise and direct commentary.”
The Rules of TRUTH
Former President Trump had raised the possibility of building a new social media platform after he was banned from both Facebook and Twitter in 2021 for repeatedly breaking the respective services’ rules of conduct and acceptable behavior.
However, it was quickly noted that TRUTH Social may have its own set of rules to abide by.
“What is interesting about former President Trump’s TRUTH site is that participants are not allowed to ‘disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site,'” explained technology analyst and social media pundit Roger Entner of Recon Analytics.
“Basically, if we don’t like your truth and it conflicts with our truth then get off TRUTH,” Entner told this reporter. “This is the very conduct former President Trump and his allies have accused other social media platforms of and called it unfair. It remains to be seen if such an echo chamber will succeed any better than its other conservative social media predecessors. Social media thrives on conflicting ideas being presented. The terms and conditions of the TRUTH platform provide former President Trump’s platform with the rules to prevent anything conflicting with President Trump’s view of the world.”
Other experts have warned that the platform could be used to spread misinformation and even disinformation.
“Without sophisticated algorithms and teams of content moderators, misinformation will likely breed on the TRUTH Social platform under the guise of free speech,” suggested Dr. Lil Read, thematic analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData.
“While Big Tech does have its problems dealing with misinformation, wherein its content promotion algorithms often create echo chambers, creating an entirely new platform is unlikely to be the way to deal with such issues,” she said in an email. “Implementing stronger content moderation processes is one way to tackle misinformation on social media platforms.”
While the official beta launch won’t come until next month, within hours of the announcement on Wednesday, the placeholder page for TRUTH Social was taken offline after some users attempted to set up accounts.
Among those was Mikael Thalen (@MikaelThalen), staff writer for the Daily Dot, who later tweeted, “Was just able to setup an account using the handle @donaldtrump on ‘Truth Social,’ former President Donald Trump’s new social media website. Although the site is not officially open, a URL was discovered allowing users to sign up anyway.”
However, too much shouldn’t be read into the out of the gate missteps.
“It certainly shows inexperience and doesn’t bode well for an example of the technology talent that the company has lined up,” said Trevisan. “But we need to be thinking in terms of publicity and Donald Trump is used to a large amount of negative publicity. This wasn’t deliberate but they’ll find a way to turn it around. It was the usual missteps that a tech launch can face, but I find it difficult to believe that there will be kind of mistakes going forward.”