Feb 22 (The Guardian) – Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, has launched on Apple’s App Store, marking the former president’s return to social media after he was banned from several platforms last year.
The app was available to download shortly before midnight eastern time and was automatically downloaded to Apple users who had pre-ordered the app.
Some users reported either having trouble registering for an account or were added to a waitlist with a message: “Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist.”
The app has been available for people invited to use it during its test phase, Reuters previously reported.
Trump was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters in January 2021, after he was accused of posting messages inciting violence.
Led by the former Republican US congressman Devin Nunes, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), the venture behind Truth Social, joins a growing portfolio of technology companies that are positioning themselves as champions of free speech and hope to draw users who feel their views are suppressed on more established platforms.
So far none of the newer companies, which include the Twitter competitors Gettr and Parler and the video site Rumble, have come close to matching the popularity of their mainstream counterparts.
“This week we will begin to roll out on the Apple App Store. That’s going to be awesome, because we’re going to get so many more people that are going to be on the platform,” Nunes said in a Sunday appearance on Fox News’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.
“Our goal is, I think we’re going to hit it, I think by the end of March we’re going to be fully operational at least within the United States,” he added.
Truth Social’s app store page detailing its version history showed the first public version of the app, or version 1.0, was available a day ago, confirming a Reuters report. The current version 1.0.1 includes “bug fixes”, according to the page.
On Friday, Nunes was on the app urging users to follow more accounts, share photos and videos and participate in conversations, in an apparent attempt to drum up activity, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Among his posts, he welcomed a new user who appeared to be a Catholic priest and encouraged him to invite more priests to join, according to the same person.
Even as details of the app begin trickling out, TMTG remains mostly shrouded in secrecy and is regarded with scepticism by some in tech and media circles. It is unclear, for example, how the company is funding its growth.
TMTG is planning to list in New York through a merger with blank-check firm Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) and stands to receive $293m in cash that DWAC holds in a trust, assuming no DWAC shareholder redeems their shares, TMTG said in press release last year.
Additionally, in December TMTG raised $1bn committed financing from private investors; that money also will not be available until the DWAC deal closes.
Digital World’s activities have come under scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to a regulatory filing, and the deal is likely to be months away from closing.