Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Like Trump rally’: Inside the former president’s media app Truth Social



‘Like Trump rally’: Inside the former president’s media app Truth Social

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Donald Trump’s new social media app Truth Social’s logo on a smartphone in Los Angeles on Monday. AFP

‘Like Trump rally’: Inside the former president’s media app Truth Social

US President Joe Biden in Taliban fighter garb or stumbling over his words or bungling efforts to avert war in Ukraine – posts on Donald Trump’s new social media network “Truth Social” have a go-to target.

For the users who make it past the waitlist to join and then the ubiquitous tech glitches on the freshly launched app, a first scan reveals that the platform calling itself a “big tent” of ideas has a tight focus on Trump’s favourite fixations.

“Truth Social is like one big 2016 Trump rally. Come on over,” Arizona state Senator Wendy Rogers appealed on Twitter, with a picture of her Truth profile. “I am dropping Truth bombs.”

After Facebook, Twitter and YouTube barred Trump last year, he is seeking a new direct-to-voter megaphone ahead of a key legislative election this year – and what his backers hope will be another run for the White House in 2024.

The tech giants booted Trump following his supporters’ deadly assault on the US Capitol and accusations he had used the platforms to incite the violent bid to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Before being banned, the ex-reality TV star had gained an audience of some 89 million followers on Twitter and used the massive platform to lead, attack and speak his mind.

Two days after going live on Apple’s App Store, the waitlist to join Truth had

grown to some half-a-million would-be users by Wednesday – a rapid increase that nonetheless represents a fraction of his defunct Twitter account.

‘Not safe for work’

Still, the internet infrastructure company RightForge, which is hosting Trump’s venture, says it expects the network to eventually grow to more than 75 million users.

Users scrolling through the Twitter and Instagram-inspired interface could see a large number of “truths”, as posts on the platform are called, focusing heavily on the former president’s favorite topics.

There were broadsides on the “fake news” mainstream media, though in this case it was for their decision to not relay false claims about the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

Among the Biden rebukes was a meme showing the president in a turban and holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher on his shoulder with a caption of “Making the Taliban great again!”, echoing Trump’s attacks after the end of America’s longest war.

Messages and user names also repeatedly incorporated the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” – a coded insult against Biden that has become a rallying cry for Trump’s supporters.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former President Donald Trump next to a phone screen that is displaying the Truth Social app in Washington, DC on Monday. AFP

“Truth Social allows the posting of ‘not safe for work’ and ‘trolling’ content,” the platform says in its community guidelines.

A few of the platform’s features however would be welcomed by some social media critics, including Truth’s minimum user age of 18 and a chronological content feed.

A 13-year-old age limit at most platforms has been attacked for treating children like adults, and the black box algorithms on services like Facebook have been accused of stoking hate, division and violence in the name of keeping users online.

‘Free thinking’ vs ‘family friendly’

In presenting itself as a “big tent” forum “for free thinking and the ability to share ideas freely”, Truth aligns with right-wing accusations that social media has been inhospitable to conservative points of view.

However, Truth’s terms of service say user contributions must not be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, violent, harassing, libelous, slanderous, or otherwise objectionable”.

Twitter, one of the platforms that conservatives accuse of being unfair, takes aim at harmful misinformation notably in specific contexts like Covid-19 hoaxes or misleading information that could influence an election.

“We want to be very family-friendly,” Trump Media & Technology Group CEO and ex-congressman Devin Nunes told Fox Business in an interview aired in January.

The finer points of the moderation system and its potential capacity to enforce strict limits remain unclear, but Nunes noted the company is working with Hive, a startup that provides automated content moderation.

Trump himself was repeatedly accused of making false or misleading statements online, so his future posts could offer some complex test cases for the platform.

Yet in an indication of the challenges of using the app so far, an AFP journalist’s Truth account was not able to access Trump’s page and TMTG did not reply to a query about its status.

Donald Trump Jr though has said his father is already online, tweeting an image of the elder Trump’s first “truth”: “Get ready! Your favourite president will see you soon!”

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a