Technical problems, waning interest, changing leadership: Trump’s social network “Truth Social” is not running smoothly. And its creator?
What is Donald Trump doing these days? At the beginning of last year, a glance at Twitter would have sufficed to answer this question. The outgoing U.S. president was sending up to 200 tweets and retweets daily to his nearly 80 million followers. Including some on Jan. 6, 2021 that galvanized and celebrated the mob storming the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Then things got quieter — Twitter blocked Trump, as did Facebook, and the restless loudmouth had little choice but to announce the creation of his own social network.
With “Truth Social,” the former president’s Trump Media & Technology Group intended not only to put the fear of God into the two networks that had banned him, according to a presentation dating to October 2021, but also, by offering additional services, to defy Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Disney+ and Google as well. In late February, Truth Social became available in the App Store for iPhones, promising to enable “an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology.”
Such promised openness has its limits. In late March, a user complained in an App Store review that his “truths” — individual posts are called “truths” — about “satanic ritual abuse” were simply disproven. “If you really want to speak of TRUTH … and the battle of Good Vs Evil on this planet … this venue will not support you.”* Another user reported a failed attempt to delete his Truth Social profile; the error message read “forbidden.”*
Why Not Right Away?
It was, in the words of most U.S. media reports, a “botched” launch. Even those who were not put off by technical hurdles when trying to register had to content themselves with a number on a waitlist, which could reach into the hundreds of thousands. Former Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned from Congress to become chief executive officer of Trump Media, hastened to promise that the social network would be “completely operational” by late March. Now, in early April, there is no indication this is the case. Complaints have not lessened. The network ranks 21st among the list of top social networking apps; the number of downloads have plummeted.
Reuters reports that two executives of Truth Social have now resigned: Josh Adams and Billy Boozer, the company’s heads of technology and product development. So, what is Trump doing? According to multiple reports, he posted a single “truth” on Truth Social, on Feb. 14, during the app’s beta phase: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”
According to The Washington Post, citing information from sources close to the former president, Trump is preparing to switch to Gettr, another Twitter clone with a conservative audience launched in July 2021 by former Trump adviser Jason Miller. Why not switch right now? Because Trump does not want to pass up the opportunity to at least use registration data from Truth Social users to build up his contacts list, which he could reuse in his campaign to return to the White House. And probably because he first must acknowledge that he cannot spontaneously claim the size of his audience as an alternative truth.
*Editor’s note: These quotes, though accurately translated, could not be verified.