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Truth Social

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Truth Social (also stylized TRUTH Social) is a proposed social media platform by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG). Originally, a limited launch was planned on Apple's App Store in November 2021, and a full public launch in 2022.[1][2]

Truth Social
Truth Social logo.svg
Type of site
Social networking service
Founded2021
OwnerTrump Media & Technology Group
Founder(s)Donald Trump
URLtruthsocial.com
Current statusUnreleased

Background

Former President of the United States Donald Trump raised the prospect of building a new social media platform after he was banned from Facebook and Twitter in 2021, following the 2021 United States Capitol attack.[3] In May 2021, Trump launched "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump", a site where he posted short tweet-like announcements; USA Today reported in early June that it was shut down after less than a month.[4]

History

On October 20, 2021, Trump Media & Technology Group issued a press release which announced the platform, slated to enter limited beta on iOS in November 2021 before a 2022 public launch.[5][1][2]

Hours after the press release, a person identifying themselves as a part of the hacker collective Anonymous used Shodan to discover domains related to the company, eventually locating what appeared to be a publicly-accessible mobile beta of the website. The URL, which permitted users to sign up and use the platform, was leaked across social media.[6] Users began trolling on the site, creating parody accounts, and posting humorous and comedic content. Users were able to sign up with usernames of high-profile individuals including Trump, Mike Pence, and Jack Dorsey.[7] The link was later taken offline.[8]

Truth Social is based on Mastodon, free and open-source software that is released under the AGPLv3 license. AGPLv3 requires any derivative source code to be publicly available. On October 21, 2021, the Software Freedom Conservancy group stated that they suspected Truth Social had violated Mastodon's license by not offering its source code to all users.[9][10][11] The Mastodon developers then formally requested that Truth Social comply with the terms of the software license.[12] On November 12, 2021, Truth Social published its source code as a ZIP file on its website.[13]

As of early December 2021, Truth Social had not yet launched.[14]

Terms of service

When the company was first announced in October 2021, its terms of service[15] said the company would not be legally responsible for "the content, accuracy, offensiveness, opinions [or] reliability" of anything users might post to the site. Some commentators noted that this self-declared immunity appeared to rely on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that Trump firmly opposed during his presidency.[16][17][18]

The terms of service further added that users would be forbidden to "disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site". Truth Social said it has the right to "suspend or terminate your account" and also "take appropriate legal action".[17]

Company and finances

On October 20, 2021, the special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) announced a merger with Trump Media & Technology Group. The merger valued the Trump Media & Technology Group at $875 million, as of October 21, 2021.[19] On October 21, 2021, shares of DWAC rose by 400%, from $10 to $45.50, following the announcement of Truth Social.[20] The next day, the stock price increased by an additional factor of two.[21] Trading of the company's stock was halted multiple times due to its volatility.[20] The run-up in stock price was considered similar to the GameStop short squeeze earlier that year.[21]

SPACs are structured such that they first sell shares to the public and then raise funds from investors to later acquire a private company, the identity of which cannot be known by the SPAC or its investors in advance. Some investors were surprised to learn that their investment money was being used to finance a Trump company. SPACs have long had questionable reputations because they can give companies access to public markets that would otherwise be difficult, due to a poor or nonexistent track record.[22]

The New York Times reported days after the TMTG deal was announced that the founder of the Digital World SPAC, Miami banker Patrick Orlando, had been discussing the deal with Trump by March. The formation of the SPAC was announced in May and it was taken public in September. The Times reported that by summer 2021 people affiliated with TMTG were telling Wall Street investors that the company was nearing a deal to merge with a SPAC. Digital World was not specifically named, but if it was the SPAC in question this may have skirted securities laws and stock exchange rules, since SPACs are not allowed to have a target company in mind prior to going public. Trump and Orlando had initially discussed a deal through another of Orlando's SPACs that was already publicly-traded, but it was deemed too small for the Trump deal. Some bankers told the Times that because the deal discussions began when the first SPAC was being considered, which would be proper, an argument could be made that discussions did not occur after the Digital World SPAC was formed, which would be improper. Digital World stated in three prospectuses that it had not had "any substantive discussions, directly or indirectly, with any business combination target."[23]

The company applied for trademarks on the name "Truth Social" and other terms including "truthing", "retruth", and "post a truth".[8][24][25]

In December 2021, TMTG said it had raised $1 billion in private investment in public equity (PIPE) funding. The investors are unidentified. The Financial Times reported the expected proceeds of the PIPE and SPAC funding to TTMG would be $1.25 billion.[26] In December 2021, it was reported the company is valued at almost $4 billion.[27]

Technology

Truth Social is modeled heavily after Twitter. Users can make posts ("truths") and share other users' posts ("retruths"). The platform also features a newsfeed, called a "truth feed", as well as a notification system.[8]

The Truth Social platform uses a custom version of the free and open-source social network hosting software Mastodon, which is typically used to connect to a broader collection of social networking websites known as the Fediverse. Truth Social's version of Mastodon removes several features, including polls and post visibility options.[28]

Reception

Pre-launch

BBC journalist James Clayton stated that the platform could be a more successful version of other alt-tech social media platforms like Parler and Gab, and is an attempt by Trump to gain his "megaphone" back.[29] Gettr CEO Jason Miller, a former advisor of Trump, praised Truth Social, said that the platform will cause Facebook and Twitter to "lose even more market share".[30] Gab said in a statement that it supports Truth Social and that users of Gab can follow Trump on his reserved Gab account.[31]

Among critical reactions, Chris Cillizza of CNN wrote that the platform was doomed to fail.[32] Noah Berlatsky, writing in The Independent, described it as a potential threat to democracy.[33] The Forward raised concerns of antisemitism becoming prominent on the platform, noting similar platforms that have become known for hosting antisemitic content, such as Parler, Gab and Telegram.[34]

Rolling Stone observed that while Truth Social promises to be an open and free platform, Truth Social's terms of service include a clause stating that users cannot disparage the site.[35]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Choi, Joseph (October 20, 2021). "Trump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social'". The Hill. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Sonnemaker, Tyler (October 21, 2021). "Trump announces plans to launch new social media platform called TRUTH Social in the first quarter of 2022". Business Insider. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  3. ^ Santucci, Jeanine (October 20, 2021). "Donald Trump announces new social media platform, Truth Social, after being banned from major apps". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  4. ^ "No more 'From The Desk of Donald J. Trump': Former president shut down blog launched just a month ago". USA Today. Archived from the original on June 18, 2021. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  5. ^ "Announcing Trump Media & Technology Group" (Press release). Palm Beach, Florida, US: Trump Media & Technology Group. October 20, 2021. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021.
  6. ^ Thalen, Mikael (October 21, 2021). "Here's how a hacker was able to blow up Trump's new free speech site". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  7. ^ Pitofsky, Marina (October 22, 2021). "Donald Trump's social media platform hacked just hours after it was announced, reports say". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 23, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Harwell, Drew (October 21, 2021). "Pranksters have already defaced Trump's new social network". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  9. ^ Robertson, Adi (October 22, 2021). "Trump's social network has 30 days to stop breaking the rules of its software license". The Verge. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  10. ^ Kuhn, Bradley (October 21, 2021). "Trump's Social Media Platform and the Affero General Public License (of Mastodon)". Software Freedom Conservancy. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  11. ^ Lemon, Jason (October 29, 2021). "Trump's Truth Social could have software license revoked unless source code made public". Newsweek. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  12. ^ "Trump's new social media platform found using Mastodon code". Official Mastodon Blog. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Kan, Michael (December 1, 2021). "Trump's Social Media Site Quietly Admits It's Based on Mastodon". PCMag.
  14. ^ Mangan, Christina Wilkie,Dan (December 1, 2021). "Trump SPAC social media company appears to miss its first product deadline". CNBC. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  15. ^ "Terms of Service". truthsocial.com. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  16. ^ Harwell, Drew (October 21, 2021). "Pranksters have already defaced Trump's new social network". Washington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  17. ^ a b McCluskey, Megan (October 22, 2021). "What to Know About What's Allowed on Trump's New 'TRUTH' Social Media Platform". Time. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  18. ^ Swisher, Kara (October 22, 2021). "Opinion | Trump to Twitter: I Can't Make You Love Me". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  19. ^ Whitcomb, Dan (October 21, 2021). "Former U.S. president Donald Trump launches 'TRUTH' social media platform". Reuters. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Mangan, Dan; Li, Yun; Wilkie, Christina (October 21, 2021). "Shares of Trump-linked SPAC surge 400% following news of social media deal". CNBC. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  21. ^ a b Ostroff, Amrith Ramkumar and Caitlin (October 22, 2021). "DWAC, the Trump Social-Media SPAC, Soars in GameStop-Like Frenzy". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 22, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  22. ^ David Enrich; Matthew Goldstein; Shane Goldmacher (October 21, 2021). "Trump Takes Advantage of Wall Street Fad to Bankroll New Venture". The New York TImes.
  23. ^ Goldstein, Matthew; Hirsch, Lauren; Enrich, David (October 29, 2021). "Trump's $300 Million SPAC Deal May Have Skirted Securities Laws". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Choma, Russ (October 22, 2021). "Did Trump's media company really just trademark the term "truthing"?". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  25. ^ McKay, Tom (October 22, 2021). "It Sure Looks Like Donald Trump Is Trying to Trademark 'Truthing'". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on October 23, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  26. ^ Asgari, Nikou; Indap, Sujeet (December 4, 2021). "Donald Trump's social media start-up raises $1bn". Financial Times. Retrieved December 4, 2021.
  27. ^ "Trump social media firm says it has raised $1bn". BBC News. December 5, 2021. Retrieved December 5, 2021. According to reports, the social media venture is now valued at almost $4bn.
  28. ^ "Mastodon's Founder Says Trump's New Social Network Is Just Mastodon". www.vice.com. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  29. ^ "Trump to launch new social media platform TRUTH Social". BBC News. October 21, 2021. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  30. ^ Vlamis, Kelsey (October 20, 2021). "Ex-Trump aide who founded 'free speech' app GETTR says he couldn't come to a deal with Trump, who has just announced a new social platform of his own". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  31. ^ Ramkumar, Amrith (October 21, 2021). "DWAC, the Trump Social-Media SPAC, Quadruples". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  32. ^ Cillizza, Chris (October 21, 2021). "3 reasons why Donald Trump's new social media company is doomed to fail". CNN. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  33. ^ Berlatsky, Noah (October 21, 2021). "Trump's 'Truth Social' could be more of a threat to democracy than it looks". The Independent. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  34. ^ Fox, Mira (October 21, 2021). "Trump's new social media platform about 'truth' doesn't seem safe for Jews". The Forward. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  35. ^ Bort, Ryan (October 21, 2021). "Trump's New Free Speech App Prohibits Users From Making Fun of It". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.

External links