Following his suspension from Twitter in the wake of January 6, the question of where Donald Trump would take his tweets was a matter of much public debate. At the time, his options were limited. The obvious choice was Parler, which had experienced rapid growth in response to Twitter’s censorship. Yet after Amazon pulled its web hosting services over concerns about “hate speech,” the company fast imploded. The only other possibility was Gab, though its reputation as a cesspool of racist bile meant it likely would have been a PR disaster that even Trump would...
Following his suspension from Twitter in the wake of January 6, the question of where Donald Trump would take his tweets was a matter of much public debate. At the time, his options were limited. The obvious choice was Parler, which had experienced rapid growth in response to Twitter’s censorship. Yet after Amazon pulled its web hosting services over concerns about “hate speech,” the company fast imploded. The only other possibility was Gab, though its reputation as a cesspool of racist bile meant it likely would have been a PR disaster that even Trump would have struggled to weather.
Seemingly out of ideas, Trump started an online blog, although that project was short-lived. His only other prospect was to launch a new platform at which he would be the star attraction. Consequently, last November, he announced the launch of his own special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, called the Trump Media and Technology Group, complete with its own social media platform curiously named “TRUTH Social.”
Fast-forward a year and TRUTH Social is finally up and running. Having refused to post for weeks following a disastrous soft launch plagued by technical glitches and waiting lists, Trump eventually began using it as his primary method of communication. However, there are already major doubts about whether the project is financially, legally, and politically viable.
One of TRUTH Social’s biggest rivals is GETTR, a social media platform founded by Trump’s own former communications director Jason Miller. In July 2021, months before Trump even announced his own plans, Miller launched GETTR to much fanfare in MAGA world. Among those to join the network were Steve Bannon, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and a host of other conservative personalities and organizations. Despite the tough competition, GETTR appears to be on a path to success. Over the last year, it has grown significantly by expanding internationally and bringing in exclusive content creators. Last month, Nigel Farage announced he was joining GETTR. The app also boasts some interesting features, including direct messages and its own short video TikTok competitor. Parler, meanwhile, recently acquired the California-based Dynascale as part of an effort to develop censorship-resistant internet infrastructure services.
Unfortunately, such positive advancements cannot be said of TRUTH Social. Although the platform hosts Trump, his family, and a host of other conservative influencers, any hope of becoming a serious competitor to Twitter remains fanciful. Numerous reports suggest TRUTH Social is in disarray. Under the leadership of CEO Devin Nunes, who resigned his congressional seat in order to take the position, TRUTH has been derided by reports of financial mismanagement, technical mishaps, and internal discord.
Far from expanding into new markets, the company has only just had its application to Google Play Store accepted, meaning that 40 percent of Americans owning Android devices have so far been unable to download it. According to SimilarWeb, a website that tracks internet traffic, the platform received about nine million visits last month. Twitter, meanwhile, recorded 6.3 billion, 700 times more. Many on the platform have described being overwhelmed by promoters of QAnon, who in many cases Trump himself has actively amplified.
There are also questions about how the platform intends to make money. A report from the Verge last month found that the organization had lost over $6 million in the first half of this year, failed to generate any revenue, and holds only $293 million in assets. The company’s stock price is down by nearly 80 percent since its peak of over $97 per share in March this year. Fox Business revealed back in August that the company had missed multiple payments to RightForge totaling $1.6 million. Although RightForge CEO Martin Avila insisted his company was “committed to servicing” TRUTH Social, the platform was warned it could lose its hosting services should it fail to meet its commitments.
The final nail in the coffin for TRUTH Social could be that the company it was built to take on, Twitter, will soon be under new management. After months of back and forth, Elon Musk confirmed last week that he would proceed with his acquisition of the company. One of Musk’s motivating factors behind the takeover was his concern that principles of free speech were not being respected by Twitter’s content moderation team. Musk has pledged to bring back free speech to the platform, including allowing the former president himself to return. Trump has dismissed the idea, although the temptation of getting his global megaphone back may eventually prove a temptation too great.
With another presidential run on the horizon, it is difficult to see how Trump could grow the platform into anything more than an echo chamber for his staunchest supporters. Trump knows how to weaponize social media and likely wouldn’t have reached the Oval Office without it. Yet in attempting to launch a multibillion-dollar media company, all while balancing a demanding political career, Trump may privately accept that he has bitten off more than he can chew.