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On Oct. 20, former U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced plans to release a new social network, TRUTH Social, to the public in early 2022 with a beta launch scheduled for next month. This announcement has come after the former President’s years-long call to action against “Big Tech” companies and “fake news” media.
The new social network will be released under the merger between “Trump Media & Technology Group” and a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). An SPAC is a company with the sole purpose of generating capital through an initial public offering in the stock market so that it can merge with an existing company.
Throughout the press release which announced these new endeavors, Donald Trump seems to have stayed true to his fight against mainstream media and monopolized social industries. A section of the release reads: “Trump Media & Technology Group's mission is to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the "Big Tech” companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.”
Posts on the new social media platform may be formally referred to as “TRUTHS,” as Trump mentions his plans to send out his first “TRUTH” soon. The TRUTH Social interface appears to be similar to that of Twitter, with a timeline of posts from accounts you follow and the option to post various types of media such as photos, videos, text, and gifs. The application also allows for users to like, reshare, and reply to posts.
Whether this platform — supposedly based on honesty — will live up to its name is still up in the air. Despite its written commitment to free expression, there is no sign of a dislike button in the video tour of the app’s interface. While Twitter has yet to release a downvote button either, its implementation has been in testing since July. The inclusion of this feature seems to only add to users’ ability to freely express themselves. Therefore, its omission from TRUTH Social is interesting.
Another question that arises around the platform’s vehement opposition to censorship and “cancel culture” is how hate speech and misinformation will be handled. While most social media platforms have a mechanism for deleting or flagging information that does not follow its guidelines of ethical social behavior, TRUTH Social appears as though it intends to push back against those very regulations. Without such rules, the extent to which hate speech and immoral discourse will be tolerated on the new application is to be determined.
Following the announcement of TRUTH Social, the decentralized hacktivist group, Anonymous, gained access to the unreleased social networking platform and posted images of defecating pigs among other expletives. The media was posted under the account name “donaldjtrump” and was, according to Anonymous, a part of their “online war against hate.” This immediate protest against the new app, which occurred just hours after the announcement was made, highlights continued political polarization in social media spaces, especially as it relates to the 2020 election and presidential candidates.
In addition to the social networking platform, Trump Media & Technology Group intends to release an on-demand video service called TMTG+ featuring “'non-woke' entertainment programming, news, podcasts, and more.” Previous Executive Producer of “Deal or No Deal” and “America’s Got Talent,” Scott St. John, has been named as the leader of the streaming platform.
In January, many of the major social networking sites, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, banned or suspended the former President’s accounts following the Jan. 6th attacks on the United States Capitol. Leading up to his removal from social media platforms, Twitter began deleting or flagging a large portion of Trump’s tweets due to misleading and false information. This has played a major role in Trump’s campaign against cancel culture and “woke” social media. Trump has since been restricted to public outreach through physical rallies, email subscriptions, and press releases such as the one which announced TRUTH Social. With Trump unable to access other public social media platforms for over ten months, the release of this new platform comes with justified concerns about the ethical consequences of his return.
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