Users

Everything That Went Wrong With Donald Trump’s New Social Network in the First 24 Hours

It hasn’t even launched yet.

This illustration photo shows a person checking the app store on a smartphone for "Truth Social."
Truth Social is Trump’s latest attempt to get back on social media. Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump announced plans to launch a new social media platform, called Truth Social, to “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.” The forthcoming app, which the announcement claims will have a beta launch in November and a wider rollout early next year, is the first project from the new Trump Media & Technology Group. Most every major social media platform—notably Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—has permanently or temporarily banned Trump because of his incitement of the Capitol Riot, so this would seem to be yet another attempt from Trump, who largely communicates publicly these days via press releases, to create his own social network to connect directly with his base. (His first attempt, a janky, Twitter-like microblog called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” shut down after less than a month due to low engagement.) Where this will fall in the annals of Trump ventures is unclear. A flop, like Trump’s casinos, airline, university, and football team? Who is to say? All we can do is answer your many, many questions.

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How will Truth Social work?

Truth Social will be a lot like Twitter, with the primary interface consisting of a feed of short posts from users you follow. However, these posts will be called “truths” instead of “tweets,” and reshares will be known as “retruths.” While the platform wasn’t supposed to have its soft launch until next month, users found a way to access the site and were setting up accounts within hours of the announcement. (One vandal claimed the @donaldjtrump handle and posted a picture of a pig with extremely large testicles.) Truth Social eventually cut off access, though screenshots of the interface taken before then suggest that the platform is basically just a fork of Mastodon, the open-access software that allows users to make spinoff social media networks. Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko has said that he will be seeking legal counsel since Truth Social appears to be breaking his product’s terms of use by not sharing the code or license with the public. Truth Social’s terms further claim that the source code is proprietary, which could also violate Mastodon’s license.

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What is the Trump Media & Technology Group?

Trump’s new company, according to a press release, was founded with the mission to “create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the ‘Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.” Apart from operating Truth Social, TMTG claims it has ambitions to launch a streaming service for news, podcasts, and entertainment programming featuring “non-woke” content. A slide deck that’s available on the company’s website lists Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Disney Plus, CNN, iHeart Media, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services as some of TMTG’s current and future competitors.

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How is this all being funded?

TMTG is applying to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (or SPAC) called Digital World Acquisition Corp., which purely functions to list private firms on the stock market. If the merger goes through, TMTG can essentially take Digital World Acquisition Corp.’s place and thus go public without jumping over many of the regulatory hurdles of the normal IPO process. TMTG claims to be valued at $875 million. The company may also access the $290 million that Digital World Acquisition Corp. has on hand, though investors in the SPAC may end up taking their money out of that pot.

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Who exactly is involved in this venture?

The former president will be the chairman of TMTG. The press release also lists TV producer Scott St. John as the head of TMTG+ Corporate Operations. St. John is known for being the executive producer of Deal or No Deal and America’s Got Talent. Donald Trump Jr. also appeared on Fox News on Wednesday to promote Truth Social, telling Sean Hannity, “What we’re trying to do is create a big tent, an open and free network for people to be able to communicate.” It’s unclear, though, to what extent the ex-president’s eldest son is involved in the company. Then there’s the SPAC, Digital World Acquisition Corp. The CEO of that entity, Patrick F. Orlando, previously worked at the Deutsche Bank and founded his own investment bank known as Benessere Capital. The CFO of Digital World Acquisition Corp., Luiz Orleans-Braganza, is notably a member of Brazil’s National Congress who previously worked at JP Morgan.* He is a member of Brazil’s former royal family and is a prominent supporter of the country’s extreme right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

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What about the other right-leaning social media networks?

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Ever since Trump was exiled from mainstream social media, alternative platforms catering to conservatives have been trying to lure the former president to make their sites his new internet home. While Trump did end up making an account on the video sharing platform Rumble, the likes of Parler, Gab, and Gettr were unable to draw him in, which would have been a big win because it would probably have attracted his base to their sites. Ex-Trump adviser Jason Miller, CEO of Gettr, said in a statement that he was unable to strike a deal with the former president to join the platform. However, Miller nevertheless congratulated Trump on launching Truth Social. Interestingly, the TMTG slide deck contains a graphic suggesting that it will somehow consolidate various conservative sites and organizations like Parler, Turning Point USA, Fox News, the Daily Wire, and PragerU. The slide reads, “TMTG has the opportunity to galvanize/unify the fragmented ‘non-Big-Tech’ universe.” As with so many things about this app, it’s unclear what exactly that means.

Correction, Oct. 21, 2021: This article originally misspelled Luiz Orleans-Braganza’s first name.

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