Donald Trump’s new social media platform Truth Social topped Apple’s charts for free apps during the week that Elon Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion.
The deal announced on Monday has sparked questions about whether the former US president, who was permanently barred from Twitter in 2021, will be allowed back on the platform. Trump told Fox News on Monday he doesn’t plan to return to Twitter and instead will be using Truth Social.
Truth Social had a buggy rollout but still topped Apple’s charts for free apps during the week of its release in February. It fell in popularity before returning to a spot on Apple’s charts, surpassing apps such as Twitter and short-form video service TikTok. Some people who downloaded the app were greeted with error messages when they tried to create an account, while others were placed on a lengthy waitlist.
Two months after its launch, Truth Social remains plagued with problems. People are still waiting to get into the app despite Truth Social’s goal to make the platform fully operational. In addition, Reuters reported in April, executives Josh Adams and Billy Boozer, who led technology and product development at Truth Social, have left the company.
The app could have given Trump, who was booted from Twitter and Facebook last year, a new social media megaphone. Still, Truth Social’s audience is much smaller than platforms like Facebook and Twitter that have been around for years. Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter and 34 million followers on Facebook. On Truth Social, he has 2 million followers.
“What makes Truth Social different!? We are a social media platform that is free from political discrimination,” reads the app’s description. Social media companies have long denied allegations that they intentionally censor conservative speech, noting that they have rules against hate speech and inciting violence.
The Trump Media & Technology Group, or TMTG, which launched Truth Social, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
App analytics firm SensorTower estimates Truth Social has been installed 1.4 million times.
Here’s what you need to know about Truth Social:
Why did Trump launch his own social media app?
Tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter made the rare move last year to bar Trump, a sitting president, from its services because of concerns his remarks would incite more violence after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots. Trump used these social networks to push baseless claims of election fraud after Joe Biden won the 2020 US presidential election.
When these companies suspended Trump, the former US president also lost his ability to reach millions of people.
In October, TMGT announced it would launch a new social network, called Truth Social, that would roll out in the first quarter of 2022. “I created Truth Social and TMGT to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a press release.
Trump has complained about the buggy rollout and why more people aren’t using the app, The Daily Beast reported in March. Trump didn’t share anything new on the app for two months, but he put up his second post on Thursday.
“I’M BACK! #COVFEFE,” the post said, along with a photo of the former US president. Covfefe is a reference to a typo Trump made in 2017 when he tweeted “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” The word appeared to be a misspelling of coverage.
How does Truth Social work?
The app’s design looks like a clone of Twitter. Users can create a profile that shows who they’re following. You’re able to comment, share and like posts, which are called Truths. The app includes a feed so you can read posts from other followers. Users can also share photos, news stories and video links. There’s direct messaging, a dark mode and notifications as well.
Is Truth Social just for conservatives?
Even though conservatives have been moving to alternatives outside of Facebook and Twitter such as Parler and Gettr, Truth Social doesn’t describe itself as an app for conservatives.
The app’s description says it has a “big tent” approach, and it describes an outdoor event tent at a wedding filled with libertarians, conservatives and liberals.
“Although we don’t always agree with each other, we welcome these varied opinions and the robust conversation they bring,” the description says.
To use the app, you do have to be at least 18 years old.
Can you say anything you want on Truth Social?
No. Like other social networks, the app has rules users agree to when they accept the app’s terms of service.
One section, called prohibited activities, outlines everything users agree not to do. That includes tricking, defrauding or misleading the company and other users “especially in any attempt to learn sensitive account information such as user passwords” and filing “false reports of abuse or misconduct.”
You also aren’t allowed to impersonate other users or use any information obtained from the app to “harass, abuse or harm another person.” In some cases, Truth Social’s rules are more strict than Twitter’s. For example, Twitter allows users to post pornography if the content is marked as sensitive, but Truth Social says sexual content or language isn’t allowed.
User-generated content also can’t be false, inaccurate or misleading or include threats of violence, according to Truth Social’s terms of service. Apps such as Facebook and Twitter have similar rules, but users have disagreed with how the companies interpreted their policies.
I downloaded Truth Social, but I can’t log in. Why?
TMTG didn’t respond to questions about the app’s status, but users are still reporting that they’re on a waitlist.
The app’s rocky rollout also sparked concerns from privacy researchers.
“There is no better sign of a rushed implementation than the fact that you can’t onboard anybody. So I’m hard-pressed to understand why anyone would trust that these people would keep their information safe,” Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy researcher, told The Washington Post.
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