Banished from major social media platforms, former President Donald Trump has announced plans to form a public company that will launch a long-anticipated social platform of his own, claiming to create a space to "stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech."
The press release announcing the platform, TRUTH Social, has a familiar Trumpian confidence, but the sustainability and many details of the venture are unclear.
TRUTH Social is expected to have a beta launch in November with a wider rollout in 2022, according to the release. Interested users can sign up for the platform on truthsocial.com — but there have been questions raised about the initial security of the site.
The release lists Trump as the chairman of the Trump Media & Technology Group, which would be formed by joining with Digital World Acquisition Corp., pending regulatory and stockholder approval. DWAC is a special purpose acquisition company, which sells stock with the intention of buying private firms, and the release says the corporation will invest $293 million in the Trump project.
Stock prices for DWAC skyrocketed Thursday after the announcement, according to CNBC. The Miami-based company was founded in December 2020.
Trump was banned from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob as the companies cited a risk of further violence. Trump's accounts were also flagged multiple times for spreading false information about voting fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump and others have claimed that the major tech platforms try to silence conservative voices — though some, notably the commentator Ben Shapiro, have found huge popularity because of their presence on social media.
In response to what he and allies viewed as Big Tech censorship, Trump first teased starting his own social media company back in March.
His former close adviser Jason Miller has since started his own social platform called GETTR. In a statement Wednesday night, Miller said, "Trump has always been a great deal-maker, but we just couldn't come to terms on a deal." Miller congratulated Trump on the launch of his company.
TRUTH Social claims it will be a place that "encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology." And yet, its terms of service forbids users from using the platform to "disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site."
As NPR's Domenico Montanaro reported in March when Trump first floated the idea of launching such a platform, the whole project is a tough one in which to find success. First, competing with the massive influence and reach of existing platforms is a big challenge — one other conservative platforms haven't managed to get much traction on, either. Also, Trump has in the past had many pie-in-the-sky ventures that haven't worked out — and he's facing his own brand problems in the wake of his presidency and the violence on Jan. 6, so the scope of who would participate in the platform would likely be limited.
Another outstanding question is what role the site might play if Trump decides to run for president again in 2024 and whether it would serve as a big enough megaphone when he no longer has the immediate influence he had on Twitter.