Everything we know about Trump’s new social network

After being unceremoniously launched from every major social network, former President Donald Trump started his own.

TruthSocial – unrelated to the notorious Soviet propaganda outlet Pravda (meaning “truth”) – plans to launch it publicly in 2022 as a new alternative to Silicon Valley giants Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as China’s TikTok.

It’s all part of Mr. Trump’s grand gamble to create a new media empire that will rival Netflix and Disney+ for streaming TV and even track Amazon and Google with new cloud hosting services designed to be “irreversible.”

But within hours of its announcement on Wednesday, hackers revealed a publicly available beta of Truth Social, allowing social media users to hijack important usernames including “donaldtrump” and “donaldjtrump” and post pictures of a pig defecating.

So what is Mr. Trump’s plan, and will it thrive or collapse?

Stand up to the tyranny of big tech

Silicon Valley crossed the point of no return when he released Trump in January for praising a crowd that violently stormed the US government seat in hopes of nullifying the 2020 election result.

While it wasn’t the first time US tech companies had banned a world leader, it was the first time they had fired their country’s democratically elected head of state and government.

Since then, the former combustible Twitter boss has repeatedly promised (or threatened) to start his own social network, but current attempts have been shameful or immaterial.

One of the earlier attempts, titled “From Donald Trump’s Office,” was marketed as a “beacon of freedom” but was in fact a blog, which was shut down a little less than a month after traffic plummeted.

This time, Mr. Trump wants the world to know he is serious. “I created the Truth Social to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” he said in a statement. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge Twitter presence, and yet your favorite American president has been silenced.”

The Truth Social looks very similar to Twitter, containing “TRUTHs” instead of tweets, “re-TRUTHs” instead of retweets and a “TRUTH feed” instead of a news feed. Apple’s iPhone App Store pre-order page promises exciting features like avatars, profiles, search functionality, and notifications.

(Trump Media & Technology Group/Apple)

In July, Mr Trump’s staff trademarked various terms including “Trump Social”, “Trump Plus” (possibly referring to a paid subscription category), “truthing”, “spreading the truth” and “retruth”, which do not It covers only social media but TV shows, podcasts, movies and video games.

For politics, Truth Social promises a “big tent” approach that allows “an open, free, and honest global conversation without discrimination against political ideology.”

He suggests, “Think of a huge outdoor event tent at your best friend’s wedding.” “Who’s there? Uncle Jim from Atlanta is a proud liberal. Aunt Kelly from Texas is a tough conservative. Your Cousin John from California is a hard-core liberal. And imagine what? They are all together to have a good time and share their views on the world.”

master plan

Mr. Trump’s ambitions go beyond social media. Truth Social is owned by a new company called Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), which has made a deal with investors to list it on the stock market.

The slide deck shared on the TMTG website proposes creating a “media powerhouse to rival the liberal media consortium,” not just through social networks but through online streaming video, news broadcasts and, one day, cloud computing services and digital payments.

Naming Netflix, Twitter, Disney+ and the podcast industry as potential competitors, it claims it’s a “tremendous market opportunity” to build an “irrevocable global community” and “stimulate a conservative media world.” In addition to Truth Social, the deck describes TMTG+, a streaming service for “non-awake” entertainment.

(Trump Group for Media and Technology)

In the longer term, she suggests, TMTG could offer cloud hosting and payments systems to rival Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Stripe, all of which Trump banned in some form in January. The idea seems to be that TMTG could become a major technology provider for services that are excluded from large platforms.

Shares in the shell company that signed a deal to acquire TMTG quadrupled Thursday, as Trump supporters and members of Reddit’s WallStreetBets community appeared to engage in a mass buying spree.

Telegram channels linked to WallStreetBets have been filled with cheerful messages encouraging members to hoard shares in the belief that they will continue to rise in price, praising Mr. Trump with varying levels of sincerity and derision.

Glitches, legal issues and pig poop

But before Wednesday night was over, Trump’s plan was derailed. According to the Daily Dot, an unknown hacker used a specialized search engine to locate TMTG servers, some of which were exposed to the public internet.

Hackers and journalists managed to create fake accounts of famous people including Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and QAnon influencer Ron Watkins. An unknown scammer grabbed a “donaldjtrump” and posted a picture of a pig defecating.

Truth Social quickly banned users and shut down its public interface, but avid social media users noticed another potential issue.

The service appears to be based on Mastodon, a free and open source program that allows people to create their own social networks.

However, licensing the Mastodon software requires anyone who modifies it to make its source code publicly available and to acknowledge where they got it from. Now, Mastodon founder Eugene Rochko is considering legal action.

Mr. Rochko said independent: “We pride ourselves on providing software that allows anyone to run their own social media platform independently of Big Tech.

“But the condition that we call our work primarily for free is that just as we give to platform operators, so do platform operators give back to us by giving us their improvements for all to see.”

The Truth Social’s promotional material also includes fake messages from companies and news outlets such as Chevy, The New York Times, TechCrunch and Variety. “This is not authorized and we will be in contact with them,” a spokesperson for the Times told The Verge.

Users can be blocked for too many capital letters

Even if the Truth Social launches successfully, it will face an uphill struggle to enforce its rules, some of which seem rather strange.

The Network’s Terms of Service prohibit “excessive use of capital letters,” and also prohibit users from “disparaging, defaming, or otherwise harming, in our opinion, we and/or the Site.”

It also states that users must not “harass, harass, intimidate, or threaten any of our employees or agents involved in providing any part of the Site.” However, it does not contain a similar provision for harassing users.

The rules embody the challenge of social media moderation, which few rebellious conservative platforms have been able to overcome.

Gap and Parler, two earlier attempts, both promised to respect different ideologies and allow free, uncensored debate. Practically, both are accused of censoring left-wing voices.

Meanwhile, both have struggled to contain a flood of extremist movements trying to exploit the spirit of free speech to incite violence against minorities and spread hateful material.

Trump’s critics might say he disagrees with that risk, given his history of racist allegations.

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