Former President Donald Trump’s social media app, which he hopes will rival Twitter, debuted on Monday, as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech speech restrictions a year after being barred from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
His Truth Social app was made available for download from the Apple App Store to a limited number of preordered subscribers, with others added to a waiting list and given access over the next 10 days.
Shortly after its launch, the site experienced technical difficulties, with reports of subscribers being locked out for hours. Others had difficulty logging in. The site is not expected to be available for download until next month. “Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist,” read a message some of those trying to access the platform, adding, “We love you.”
Trump is hoping that the millions of people who follow him on Twitter will flock to Truth Social as he hints at a third presidential run, resulting in a flood of new subscribers to justify the billions of dollars that investors have bet on the venture. In recent months, shares in a company that intends to acquire Trump Media and Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social, have skyrocketed.
Truth Social was the top free app in the United States on Monday morning, according to Apple’s rankings, beating out the “Talking Ben the Dog” children’s game, streaming service HBO Max, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
The partial launch on Monday follows an experimental “beta” launch last week to test the platform. Trump was barred from using major social media platforms in the aftermath of last year’s Capitol riot, which critics accused him of inciting. The ban has raised difficult questions about free speech in a social media industry dominated by a few tech behemoths, which Trump and conservative media have exploited.
Republicans were quick to capitalize on the launch of Truth Social to raise funds for their election campaigns.
“After more than a YEAR of being muzzled by the Liberal Big Tech Tyrants: TRUMP.” IS. BACK,” wrote Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in an email fundraising appeal Monday.
The Republican National Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund have also raised funds as a result of the launch. “Our primary goal here is to restore people’s voices.” “Devin Nunes, CEO of Trump Media and a former Republican congressman, stated on Fox News on Sunday. He went on to say that the app provides “the polar opposite of some Silicon Valley tech oligarch freak telling people what to think and deciding who can and cannot be on the platform.”
Trump is hoping to capitalize on the outrage over the social media bans in order to attract a large audience and keep the stock rising — and possibly hand him hundreds of millions of dollars personally — but he faces significant obstacles.
None of the alternative messaging platforms that are already available to the public, such as Gettr and Parler, have been able to break through the echo chamber of conservative political commentary.
Trump Media, Trump’s company, is also facing financial difficulties. It has been promised nearly $300 million from a publicly traded company that plans to merge with it, as well as pledges from dozens of private investors for an additional $1 billion to fund its operations, but the deal still needs to be approved by regulators before it can access the cash.
The company it hopes to merge with, Digital World Acquisition Corp., has stated that regulators are looking into allegations that it violated security rules last year by talking to Trump representatives about possibly joining forces before selling stock to the public. Digital World is a so-called blank-check company, which is only permitted to go public quickly and without many disclosures if it has not yet identified a target to buy.
Earlier this fall, another regulatory investigation was launched into possible stock trading violations.
Trump Media, the company’s eventual merger target, is valued at $10 billion in stock by Digital World.