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Truth Social: What do we know about Trump’s new alternative to Twitter?

After a bumpy road to launch, Truth Social is nearly ready for its full-fledged debut

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 21 February 2022 12:23 GMT
Truth Social hits the Apple app store
Truth Social hits the Apple app store (AFP via Getty Images)
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After months of fanfare, Donald Trump’s bespoke social media app Truth Social has begun beta tests, with some 500 users putting it through its paces. It’s been more than a year since Mr Trump was banned from most social media networks, and the new venture is being promoted as a new way for him to get his voice out to supporters without any filter. So what will it actually look like, when will it be fully up and running, and most importantly, will it work?

When is it launching?

Truth Social has already a made a debut of sorts, appearing in Apple’s app store and allowing users to sign up to a “waiting list”. The full launch, however, has already been delayed to the end of March. The process of building and setting up the app has seen both negative publicity and regulatory investigations into its funding, both of which haven’t helped with the rollout.

Early reports of the signup process were also mixed, with would-be users reporting error messages and long waits to create accounts – a process that simply landed them on a waiting list. International fans, meanwhile, reported that it had yet to appear in the app store in their countries.

What does it look like?

The first peek at the app’s interface came in the form of a screenshot shared by Donald Trump Jr. and others. Purporting to show the ex-president’s first post on the app – “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!” – the image shows what looks like a carbon copy of Twitter.

That the president’s family are having to promote their anti-Twitter network on Twitter itself was not lost on that platform’s users.

How is it different from other right-wing platforms?

There are already numerous social networks and apps that position themselves as conservative-friendly alternatives to “big tech” operators like Facebook and Twitter. The headliners in this space are Parler (“where free speech thrives”, according to its slogan) and Gettr (“The Marketplace of Ideas), which was founded last year by loyal Trump staffer Jason Miller.

Parler, which opened for business in 2018, saw a massive spike in signups after the 2020 election. It was widely accused of having served as a platform for many involved in the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol – something its bosses claim to have warned the FBI about in advance. It was initially banned from the Apple store after the riot, but was allowed back within a few months.

Getter, meanwhile, claims to be the “fastest ever social media platform to 1 million users” after its launch in 2021. Its mission is ostensibly to “support free speech and oppose cancel culture”, again in response to what many on the right decry as censorship by Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. It has hosted various high-profile users, among them Joe Rogan – who joined in January 2022, but just a week later dismissed it as a “fugazi” (fake) operation that had “ported” his Twitter followers and was automatically reposting his Tweets.

Is it really a “free speech” platform?

One of the less edifying stories to emerge in the run-up to launch revealed that the platform’s terms and conditions bar users from posting messages to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site” – hardly an invitation to unfiltered discourse that speaks truth to power.

It has since emerged that Truth Social will use third-party artificial intelligence methods to target and remove “sexually-explicit content, and posts that include violence, hate speech, bulling and spam”. Given the content of Mr Trump’s long-gone Twitter feed (and Donald Trump Jr’s current one), this may prove to be a delicate task. And that the company performing it is a San Francisco-based innovator again carries more than a whiff of irony.

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