Former US President Donald Trump, who was booted fromlast year, has a new social media megaphone, though just how mega remains to be seen.
Trump Media and Technology Group on Feb. 20 launched a social media app called Truth Social in Apple’s App Store. 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.
Despite the buggy rollout, Truth Social topped Apple’s charts for free apps during the week of its launch, ahead of popular services such as HBO Max, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Since then, Truth Social has fallen on the charts and is now No. 123 as of Monday. Sensor Tower, which tracks the market for mobile apps, estimated on Feb. 23 that Truth Social hit 412,000 installs.
The app’s audience is still 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 195,000 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.
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. 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,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 been reportedly complaining about the buggy rollout and why more people aren’t using the app, The Daily Beast reported over the weekend.
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, according to the app’s description.
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 market 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 launch, but the company’s CEO, Devin Nunes, a former Republican member of Congress, told Fox News that the goal is to make the app fully operational at least within the US by the end of March.
The app’s rocky rollout is already sparking 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.