Remember how Trump's new media company was launching its own social network, dubbed Truth Social, and Devin Nunes left his job in Congress to help lead this company and this new thing they imagine will go toe to toe with Twitter? Well, it just "launched" in time for President's Day, only it hasn't really launched and doesn't actually work yet.
Truth Social has, allegedly, been in beta since December, and today's sort-of launch in the Apple App Store was just for some select subscribers who had somehow "preordered" the free app, as the Associated Press reports. Most users are being allowed to create user names — though this already appears glitchy — and passwords, and then are told they've been put on a waitlist.
"Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist," a message in the app reads. "We love you, and you're not just another number to us. But your waitlist number is below."
Mine was above 240,000.
The app will certainly have an uphill climb to become anything bigger than Parler or the other moderation-free right-wing echo chambers that sprang up during the Trump era as many of his ardent fans got themselves kicked off of Twitter. And one of the funnier aspects of Truth Social is that instead of tweets and retweets, users can post "Truths" and "ReTruths." And users are referred to as "TruthSayers" — New York Magazine notes that someone on the team must have thought better of using the term "Truthers."
And can we even laugh at the irony of Trump, whose own relationship with facts has never been a good one, launching something where every post is called a "Truth"?
Truth Social! Let's have it!! pic.twitter.com/pExhawX3ow— TA 🍊 (@Tope_soft) February 20, 2022
I’m on Truth Social!— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) February 20, 2022
As the only Member of Congress to have had my personal @Twitter account banned, I understand what millions of conservatives have gone through having their personal freedom of speech stolen from them by Big Tech for not parroting the approved messaging.
Anyway, the real, public launch of Truth Social has been pushed until sometime in March, as the New York Times reported on Friday. And that could still be hampered by the fact that Trump's truth-y company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, is likely pretty short on cash. A deal to merge with a SPAC or blank-check company called Digital World Acquisition is stymied by an SEC investigation. It seems that while blank-check companies are supposed to raise funds without a specific merger target or business plan, Digital World Acquisition may have went ahead with selling shares after it was already talking with Trump's company about a planned merger, which would be a violation of federal rules.
Between Trump's company and Digital World, they've allegedly raised $1 billion from 36 investors, including a couple of big hedge funds, as the Times reported last month. But they can't yet tap any of that cash until the investigation is done.
And how can anyone believe that a shitshow platform for Trumpers and Trump himself, with its number-one purpose being a new mouthpiece for Trump and his bullshit non-truths — and its second purpose being a place with zero moderation of, say, overtly racist memes and incitements to violence — is going to get anywhere or build any sort of significant following? Trump is famous for overestimating his own fame and pull, and while his star power is significant in some pockets of the country, I don't think he understands that Twitter's 200+ million user base wasn't built in a day — or that a whole lot of people don't look at Twitter to read or tweet about politics.
Gettr, the right-wing "free speech zone" founded last year by former Trump aide Jason Miller, only claims to have five million users so far, and it has failed to lure Trump himself to use it — probably because he thinks the audience size isn't worth his time.
"The problem with Truth Social, Gettr and Parler is these are Twitter competitors and they are echo chambers for a narrow political spectrum," says Mark Weinstein, who founded his own Facebook alternative called MeWe, speaking to the Times. "Echo chambers don’t have broad appeal."
And what happens when Truth Social is implicated in some January 6th-type event, or some other act of domestic terrorism? It will get booted out of the Apple and Android app stores just the way Parler did last year, and it will see its user growth plummet to near zero just as Parler's basically did. (Parler is now back in the Apple App Store and it recently announced that it was Melania Trump's chosen "home" on social media.)
The problem of content moderation is never going away, the internet can be a horror show without it, literally, and experts suggest that the majority of people on the internet do not want it to be unregulated and unmoderated. And how do you sell ads on a platform where people are spewing racism and posting disgusting images of violence 24-7? You don't! So there's that too. But don't try to tell that to Trump, the business genius.
We'll give this whole charade about eight months before it implodes and Trump fires everyone. Hope you've got a Plan B, Nunes.
Nunes bumblefucked the Truth Social launch, huh?— Angry Staffer (@Angry_Staffer) February 21, 2022
Anyone not see that coming?