February 22, 2022
Image: The White House
Good morning! You don’t have to squint too hard to see that Trump’s new social media app, Truth Social, is just Twitter with different vibes. I’m David Pierce, and I just learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Once. And it took me all day.
I'm @davidpierce on Truth Social. Or at least, I will be when I get off the waitlist. I'm #169,866 in line, according to the app. (And #89,866 according to an email I got yesterday, which really doesn't make any sense.)
Truth Social launched yesterday, and it seems to have gone about the way most social app launches go. There were lots of bugs, a long waitlist, and a lot of promises about how things will get better soon. In this case, according to Devin Nunes, the former congressman and current CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, Truth Social should be "fully operational" by the end of March. It's not yet in the Google Play Store, but that's apparently coming soon, too.
So what is the app? Well, picture Twitter. There, that's it, you're done. It's Twitter.
What makes Truth Social different? The vibes. The service calls itself "the Big Tent of social networking," and compares itself to a wedding where you're hanging out with your crazy uncle and kooky cousin and still having a good time. Mostly, though, it just promises to be "free from political discrimination."
This is the first step in Donald Trump's quest to be a tech tycoon. Remember that slide deck from last year in which TMTG promised to take on Twitter and Facebook, Netflix and Disney, CNN and iHeartMedia, and just for good measure, AWS, Azure, Stripe and Google Cloud? The company is planning to go public via a SPAC, though that's still very much not guaranteed to work. And Truth Social seems to be the linchpin of the whole plan.
The whole alternative social media space wants this to work. For all the upstart social platforms and livestreaming apps, the vast majority of public online discourse still happens on Facebook and Twitter. All of these companies have positioned themselves in direct opposition to Big Tech, so any company that can upset that duopoly could open the market for everyone else, too.
So far, it looks like a solid debut. Truth Social was No. 1 on the App Store even as the app had issues and hardly let anyone in to use it. I'm not sure how much I trust the waitlist numbers, but it's clear that there's some pent-up excitement for the app. The question, as with all the others, will be whether it can sustain the interest, or if Truth Social is destined to be abandoned on home screens everywhere.
If it doesn't work? Trump reportedly shut down his blog in part because he was mad about coverage of its small audience. And after months of delays, Trump is also reportedly frustrated with the current state of Truth Social. Suffice to say, its runway may be a little shorter than your average social startup.
The dawn of the tech union
What are the key drivers at play leading tech workers to form unions? What does this mean for employers? How can companies better adapt to the needs of their workers? Protocol’s Anna Kramer will chat with tech unions about their needs, companies about their strategies at the bargaining table and labor experts about how workers and employers can best collaborate at 10 a.m. PT Feb. 22. RSVP here.
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