April 15, 2024


Unlimited Technology

Donald Trump Can’t Stop Whining About His Failing Social Media App

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty

As Donald Trump weighs another run for the White House, the twice-impeached former president has made a point of embarking on new business opportunities to increase his wealth and maintain his personal brand. But unfortunately for Trump, one of his most heavily promoted ventures—Truth Social—is currently looking less like a success and more like an embarrassing dud.

Even for a soft launch, Truth Social’s launch has been particularly soft. And after a botched rollout where most prospective users were simply added to a wait list, Trump has been grumbling about the app behind the scenes, according to two sources familiar with the matter, even as he’s tried to put on a brave face publicly.

In recent weeks, sources have heard the former president on the phone swearing gratuitously and asking things like, “What the fuck is going on” with Truth Social.

He’s repeatedly groused about the negative press and the less-than-stellar optics of the rollout, these sources said. And he’s demanded to know why more people aren’t using it—why the app isn’t swiftly dominating the competition.

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During his presidency and in the years prior to his political rise, Trump had a famous reputation for berating underlings for failures that were mostly his own fault. Throughout all those years, his short attention span was a constant; he tends to quickly lose interest in novel business ideas, partnerships, and money-making gimmicks that oftentimes rapidly go nowhere—if not worse.

But if the preliminary traffic numbers are of any indication, the former president and current wannabe social-media mogul has a point.

The Daily Beast reviewed analyses of visits to Truth Social’s performed by SimilarWeb, which tracks website traffic from public and private sources. The company’s figures for the MAGA social network—while only an estimate based on incomplete data—are nonetheless anemic. Trump’s own social media platform is doing either worse or the same as other MAGA social sites like Gab—another pro-Trump competitor website that’s especially beloved by, well, Nazis—and Gettr, a platform fronted by one of Trump’s former top political aides, Jason Miller.

SimilarWeb’s estimates show a sharp spike of around 2 million daily visits to the site when it first debuted, before traffic dipped to an average of approximately 300,000 visits each day, putting the site on par with Gettr. Meanwhile, the far-right Gab has averaged around 650,000 daily average visits in the same time period.

As of Friday, Truth Social was the 72nd most popular free app in Apple’s AppStore, a far cry from Facebook (5th) and his formerly beloved Twitter (22), both of which booted the ex-president after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The relatively light traffic could be explained in part by Truth Social’s waitlist—MAGA fans who want to join the platform have now racked up a million-strong backlog of users looking to join during the app’s soft launch. The app is also only available on Apple devices, denying access to owners of Android phones.

The extreme-right Gab, however, has managed to rack up twice the web traffic as Truth Social, despite its mobile apps being banned from both Apple and Google’s app stores.

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The odd sluggishness of the waitlist could also explain why, at this early stage of Trump’s website, the MAGA fans who have visited Truth Social also don’t tend to stay very long, according to SimilarWeb’s analytical tools. The company estimates that the average visitor to Trump’s site stays for just 90 seconds—a far cry from the seven minutes users tend to spend on Gettr and nine minutes spent on Gab.

In an appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando last week, Trump said the app’s launch was still ongoing. “It’s slowly been opened, people are getting on and they’re loving the product and we’re getting a voice,” he claimed to a reporter from the pro-MAGA Right Side Broadcasting Network.

“It’s been an incredible success,” he claimed. “We have hundreds of thousands of people trying to get on and we’re doing it very slowly.”

Even though Team Trump might be eager to spin this as standard growing pains as opposed to conspicuous shortcomings, Truth Social’s lackluster performance is notable given the deep pockets behind the company.

Trump Media & Technology Group—Truth Social’s parent company—raised a billion dollars from investors when it went public in late 2021. The company had also partnered, as The Daily Beast first reported in December, with another well-funded right-wing social media contender, Rumble, which markets itself as an alternative to Big Tech staples like YouTube and Amazon Web Services.

Still, it is likely not helping the fortunes of the 45th U.S. president’s new company given that he doesn’t even seem all that interested in using it right now. As Axios pointed out this week, “Trump hasn’t posted a single time since the launch, despite an international crisis that has captivated the country. Instead, he’s given his comments to radio and TV hosts.”

With Twitter being an obvious exception, Trump has long been skeptical, or just plain hostile, toward the concept of personally using new apps and technology.

Seth Meyers Brutally Mocks Trump’s ‘Clusterfuck’ Truth Social Launch

He is rarely seen operating a computer himself, and he doesn’t even email. Instead, he relies on an assistant to send messages for him. He even gets irrationally angry at websites and online forums that don’t make sense to him.

When Trump (ostensibly) hosted a Reddit AMA during his 2016 presidential campaign and was asked by his staff to pose for a photo of him “participating” via laptop, the then-future leader of the free world got annoyed and barked at his aides. He said the whole exercise was a waste of his time, and he stormed out of the room, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

At the time, while aboard his private plane, Trump added that one reason he stormed off was that he felt some of his campaign aides were making fun of him for looking like he didn’t know how to use a computer.

Still, Truth Social could be critical at some point for Trump’s expected campaign for president.

Twitter and Facebook were crucial to his successful 2016 and barely unsuccessful 2020 campaigns. And during his presidency, Trump routinely marveled at how he was able to instantaneously change cable-news bottom-halves and regularly drive entire news cycles with a flick of a tweet. Trump even told his former attorney general Bill Barr that the way to write a truly “good tweet” was to inject “just the right amount of crazy,” according to Barr’s account.

It’s just that, right now, he seems to be sticking with long, characteristically incoherent statements that his aides screenshot and post to… Twitter.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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