Donald Trump’s ego-driven need to slap his name on crappier versions of existing things continues.
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise when former President Donald Trump announced the creation of his “Trump Media & Technology Group” on Wednesday evening. The company, along with its maiden project, the soon-to-launch “TRUTH Social” network, is a culmination of sorts of Trump’s long rumored plans to establish himself as a sort of media baron akin to his longtime frenemy, News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch.
The TRUTH Social app in particular, which Trump claims will be ready for a beta rollout in November followed by a general launch sometime next year, is hardly revolutionary stuff. Consider that it comes on the heels of other right-wing platforms like Gab (currently in the midst of a full-blown Nazi meltdown), GETTR (currently reduced to lame giveaways in a transparent attempt to drum up interest), and, for a painfully awkward moment, Trump’s own hilariously stupid stab at microblogging. What’s more, from the looks of TRUTH Social’s app store profile, there’s nothing particularly new or interesting about this latest push to create yet another digital conservative safe space in terms of the actual platform itself; it’s just Twitter, with slightly dumber branding. (To wit: “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced,” Trump said in the press release announcing his new media conglomerate.)
Even the app’s ostensibly celebratory description is just a long rehash of what already exists on other, more established, more populated platforms:
Profile - Express your unique personality by setting up a profile, avatar, and background. Begin to track your personal connections through follower and following counts as well as history for your posts and likes.
TRUTH Feed - Get the scoop on the latest thoughts and activities from the people, organizations, and news outlets that interest you. The TRUTH Feed contains posts from all those you follow brought to life with the help of thumbnail photos, links, and more.
Search - TRUTH Social really starts to become interesting as you connect with others. Search for a voice that you find interesting and easily follow them right from the search list or view their profile first before deciding.
Notifications - Stay engaged as you build a following. See who’s following you and who’s interacting with your TRUTHs.
So you’re saying I can set up a picture AND a background, check my follower count, and click on links and thumbnail photos?? Wowie! The future truly is now! Whatever you do though, do not make fun of TRUTH Social — even a site predicated entirely on the free exchange of ideas has to draw the line somewhere. And that “somewhere,” evidently, is “around itself.”
But TRUTH Social is just part of the former president’s grand scheme to become the planet’s next Rupert Zuckerberg. As the TMTG website makes clear, Trump’s new venture aims for nothing less than total global domination:
The man who couldn’t sell steaks, airplane tickets, or casinos evidently believes he can take on Facebook, CNN, Disney, and — eventually — Google and Amazon’s cloud services. Forgive me if I’m, uh, a bit skeptical. Let’s just say a company that lists simply “podcast” alongside Disney+ and Netflix doesn’t exactly seem to have its shit together, y’know?
In part, the company seems to be basing its projections of future wealth and power on the sheer appeal of Trump’s former social media presences. “A lot of people followed him on Twitter (true) so clearly there’s money to be made here!” seems to be the name of the game. In reality there’s probably some truth to that, albeit not in a way that even comes close to the sort of global reach TMTG seems to think it will.
Trump’s aspiring streaming service TMTG+ faces a similar problem: The biggest names in Trumpish media are all already employed by other, larger, more successful ventures. Do you really think someone like Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, or even Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson, would really jump ship from a lucrative broadcasting position to do the exact same thing they already do, just for a smaller, less stable venture headed by someone who failed at selling a board game of himself? I don’t. Which means the roster of available talent to fill Trump’s budding news service would largely be composed of backbencher talent and his own immediate family. That’s hardly the sort of sustainable business model to base an entire media empire on.
If I had to guess, I’d say TMTG and TRUTH Social will be slightly more successful than GETTR and Gab and the other various attempts to cash in on a very real, but very limited audience of disgruntled conservatives. It will, after all, have Trump’s personal imprimatur to separate it from the decidedly mediocre pack. But as we’ve seen time and time again, that’s hardly enough to build a real business on. A few quick bucks? Sure. But anything beyond that, well ... I’m not optimistic.
Ultimately, the problem here is that Trump’s not really offering anything that fills a need. Conservatives already tweet, or Gab, or GETT (??) at each other, and watch Fox News and OANN and Newsmax, and then tweet or Gab or GETT about it all over again. The fact that they haven’t already logged off from those should be a big red flag for Trump and his ego-driven need to slap his name on crappier versions of existing things. Somehow, though, I don’t think he’ll heed the warning.