The Emptiness Inside Donald Trump’s New Social Media Platform
Jimmy Carter has built homes with Habitat for Humanity. George W. Bush learned to paint. Barack Obama hung out with Bruce Springsteen. And Donald Trump, 45and President of the United States, has created his own alternative online universe for the common man who loves MAGA and hates Big Tech. After months of hype, the site was here – and it looked very much like what it’s supposed to replace.
Inside Truth Social, everything that was once blue was now a bright, jewel-toned purple. Tweets, aka posts, were now “truths.” Retweets were now “ReTruths”, capital T. And above my username I saw the site’s default avatar: Twitter’s cream-colored egg icon, the image given to all new users, had apparently spawned to a proud purple eagle. The rest of the site looked familiar: answers were always answers. Likes were still likes. Direct messages, still in development, were still direct messages. And Donald Trump was still @realDonaldTrump — followed, at the time of this writing, by 140,000 people, a tiny fraction of his total Twitter following. Only one Truth appeared on his page: “Get ready! Your favorite president will see you soon! he wrote two weeks ago, before the app launched. The Truth posted 7,750 ReTruths, 30,500 likes and 4,700 replies. (Inexplicably, unlike replies on other user posts, none of the replies to Trump’s post were visible to me.)
In my inbox, an unsigned email welcomed me to “our truth-seeking community.”
Most people are still waiting to enter this purple landscape. Eleven days after it launched on February 21, timed for the indistinct federal holiday that is President’s Day, I was welcomed to Donald Trump’s new online home after holding 169,685and place on the waiting list. (The line has hundreds of thousands of users, according to other people waiting to get in.)
The site promises a safe space for “free expression”, encouraging “all points of view”, according to the welcome email, “because we do not discriminate against political ideology”. But inside the app, digital tumbleweeds blew through my feed. The site is a bit slow, and a bit empty. Its stalled rollout, led by Devin Nunes, the Trump supporter and former Republican congressman from California, has become a source of frustration and confusion in the MAGA world, according to my colleague Meridith McGraw. Republican lawmakers like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy already have accounts and appear to be posting similar or identical content on Truth Social and Twitter, as well as right-wing platforms like Gettr and Parler. (Apparently no one is quite ready to turn their backs on an actual audience just yet.) But when they finally get their welcome emails, the thousands of regular Trump fans are still waiting in line, eager to seek out the truth. finding a Twitter imitation with no immediately noticeable improvement over the original – a vanity project that has yet to prove its usefulness.
Simply put, not much is happening on the site.
After I created my profile under my name, a list of suggested users appeared on screen: Donald Trump was #1, followed by pages for Truth Social, the NFL, USA Military News, the Daily Mail, Sean Hannity, Kyle Rittenhouse. and an account for paranormal news and discussions.
Scrolling down I saw ordinary users and trolls on the list: @CreepyJeffBezos, @HypocriteTrudeau, @FakeHunterBiden (bio: “Celebrating Hunter Biden’s love of art, prostitutes and computers laptops”).
As I was going through the list, another notification popped up on top of my phone. My first follow-up! “LET’S GO BRANDON TOKEN ($LGBT) is following you now,” the app informed me. Tapping on the page, I found an account promoting some kind of new crypto offering, the Let’s Go Brandon Token, also described by the anonymous user as “THE PEOPLE’S TOKEN”.
Minutes later, my second Truth Social follow-up arrived, hitting the full spectrum of Trump haters, lest we forget 2016.” HilaryHater [sic] following you now,” the notification read. The account’s avatar showed Hillary Clinton sitting on a witch’s broomstick, flying above a purple Earth. “Father of 4 grown men,” the biography explained. “I couldn’t be more proud that I don’t have snowflakes for the kids.” I followed both accounts back, hoping to establish engagement.
On Truth Social’s own account page, @truthsocial, site administrators advised users to be patient as the platform continued to work through its waiting list and iron out bugs and technology inconsistencies. The site is the flagship offering of Trump’s technology company, Trump Media & Technology Group, founded last year under a SPAC deal, with $1 billion from undisclosed investors, according to the company ( which is currently under investigation by federal regulators). Truth Social’s page is filled with memes: a car swerving off the freeway, away from a sign that read “Big Tech” toward an off-ramp for “Truth Social”; two doors, one for Twitter, showing a vacant room, another for “Truth Social”, with dozens of people trying to enter. But inside, Truth Social feels empty.
The most vigorous conversation on the site seems to be the entirely made-up ones that appeared on pre-launch mockups. In images available on Apple’s App Store, an account called @jack matches a man named Rick, making conversation like “What’s your favorite place in the world to go?” You won’t believe how beautiful Jamaica is. Another mockup, demonstrating the yet-to-be-released direct message feature, shows @jack asking someone named @jane to ask Truth Social’s moderation team to remove an offending account. “Are you sure you want to do this?” @jane responds. “I mean it’s a big deal to censor this content. A little exaggerated… right? In the mockup, @jack (possibly a reference to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey) replies, “JUST TAKE IT DOWN!” with angry red face emoji. What the mockup was meant to demonstrate – a user experience without censorship or safe moderation – is unclear. But on the site, there was little engagement between users. In response to a post from Nunes advising “another day with more people joining the platform”, 149 replies included messages of encouragement. “Make social media even better!” said one user. “It’s already better than Twitter if someone can read this message!!” said another.
Dan Scavino, Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, appears to be one of the site’s most active users, with 74 truths and counting. At the bottom of his feed, his first post on the site, posted about two weeks ago, showed an image of a blood-red wave crashing violently into the sea. Above a row of emojis – heart red, white heart, blue heart, American flag, flying eagle – Scavino wrote: “WE ARE MORE THAN THERE IS!”
Around 10 am, I Verified my first Truth.
“Anyone there?” I wrote.
At the end of the day, no one had answered.