The Whiplash-Inducing Sort-Of Rise And Spectacular Fall Of Trump’s Social Media App

The TRUTH Social website is seen on a mobile device with an image of former US president Donald Trump in the background in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022. TRUTH Social is a newly devel... The TRUTH Social website is seen on a mobile device with an image of former US president Donald Trump in the background in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022. TRUTH Social is a newly developed social media platform by the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) modelled after Twitter. The initiative was taken after Trump himself had been banned from Facebook and Twitter in 2021. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Former President Trump’s attempt at launching a social media platform to circumvent his ban by tech giants has been, let’s just say, a train wreck.

It didn’t take long for the wheels to come off of the long-awaited, virtual Trump train. In the several months of its existence, Trump’s TRUTH Social app has gone on a wild ride: from a licensing snafu prior to its official launch, to a clownish congressman-turned-CEO, to this week, where we find the app’s top executives fleeing the dysfunctional venture less than two months after its launch.

Here’s a timeline of the chaotic rise and fall of Trump’s social app:

October 2021: Trump announces his off-brand Twitter — and immediately runs into a legal snag

The former president’s “Truth Social” app was a weird idea to begin with, given the proliferation of other social media apps such as Gab, Gettr and Parler catering to the far-right.

Shortly after Trump launched his app, members of the open source community stumbled upon something intriguing: a test version of the platform appeared to be accessible, and seemed to operate on an already existent software known as Mastodon.

Much like TRUTH Social, Mastodon mimics Twitter. But Mastodon mandates that anyone who uses its code make those modifications publicly available. And, so, TRUTH Social appeared to have violated those terms by building on Mastodon but keeping its work quiet. Last October, the code’s creator demanded in a letter to TRUTH that it comply with the terms of the open-source license.

TRUTH seems to have fixed the licensing issue after receiving a letter from Mastodon’s attorneys.

Late 2021: TRUTH Social App attracts SEC inquiry

Adding to its very Trumpian and growing list of problems, TRUTH faced investigations into its fundraising from federal regulators. Digital World Acquisition Corp., which serves as the main financing vehicle for TRUTH, disclosed in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the SEC had sent it voluntary requests for information and records.

As the New York Times noted in an article published in late October, the $300 million deal to fund Truth may have skirted federal securities law. (The filing, however, noted that the SEC’s investigation did not indicate that it had concluded that figures in Digital World violated any laws or regulations.) Digital World said at the time that it was cooperating with the SEC’s inquiry.

Dec. 6, 2021: Devin Nunes — Devin Nunes! — retires from Congress to head up TRUTH Social

Then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced that he was leaving Congress to join TRUTH as its CEO.

“The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream,” Nunes said in a statement.

Nunes’ move was a surprising one, given his lack of experience leading a tech company. But he did have a history of serving as one of Trump’s loyal foot soldiers during his time serving in Congress. Much like Trump, the then-chair of the House Intelligence Committee was known for pushing a series of unfounded conspiracy theories and running parallel investigations into investigators as then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller conducted the Russia probe.

Additionally, Nunes ran a parallel investigation into Hunter Biden during Trump’s first impeachment investigation over his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government into helping him win the 2020 election.

That earned him the former president’s favor. His most high-profile social media experience, however, appeared to amount to suing a satirical cow.

Mid-December 2021: TRUTH teams up with the streaming service Rumble, home to anti-vax and QAnon-friendly content

Trump’s social network linked up with an online video provider that prides itself as a platform that allows a range of characters to avoid “cancel culture.” It hosted videos from several Trumpworld figures such as Donald Trump Jr., and had become a go-to platform for a range of fringe characters, including QAnon supporters, far-right extremists, and anti-vaxxers.

Trump Media & Technology Group — which controls TRUTH Social — will receive cloud computing services from Rumble, and Rumble will provide video and streaming for TRUTH, along with an unspecified, planned “Subscription Video On-Demand Product” called TMTG+, the company said at the time.

February 2022: TRUTH Social gets off to a profoundly glitchy start

Alas, Trump’s long-awaited social media app debuts — only to faceplant amid a tidal wave of glitches.

On launch day, TRUTH reportedly experienced a 13-hour outage. But the issues didn’t stop there — more than 300,000 people were on the waiting list to get accepted to use the app, its logo was allegedly a counterfeit of one used by a British trucking company, and it came under fire for the speech restrictions outlined in its terms of use (e.g. no profanity or criticizing the app itself in social posts — despite the app billing itself as a free speech paradise).

Even those who successfully downloaded TRUTH on its launch day had their own set of issues — many reported errors when entering basic information like date of birth or email address. The website’s own name was also misspelled on at least one section of a Help page.

April 2022: TRUTH Social executives resign because, surprisingly, the app isn’t really that popular

More than a month after TRUTH Social’s chaotic debut, chaos continued to ensue as top executives departed the company amid the app’s struggle to gain traction, facing low traffic and persistent tech glitches.

According to Reuters and Politico, three top executives of the app quit: chief technology officer, Josh Adams, Billy Boozer, the head of the company’s product development, Lori Heyer-Bednar, its chief legal officer.

The former president has reportedly been upset with his app’s lackluster performance thus far, and is eyeing “major shake-ups” to the company, including positions on the board of Truth Social’s parent company, according to Politico.

For what it’s worth, even Trump barely uses his own social media app. The former president has only made one post on it.

“Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!” Trump wrote on Feb. 14.

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