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Trump's social media site hits the app store a year after he was banned from Twitter

Some users experienced glitches on former President Donald Trump's new social media app Truth Social as it launched Monday.
Chris Delmas
AFP via Getty Images
Some users experienced glitches on former President Donald Trump's new social media app Truth Social as it launched Monday.

Truth Social, the fledgling social media platform created by former President Donald Trump that bills itself as "free from political discrimination," launched Monday. The app shot to the top of Apple's most-downloaded list — but complaints quickly rolled in, including a buggy registration process, long waitlists and sign-up glitches.

NPR's Bobby Allyn reports Trump created the app after he was kicked off a number of social platforms last year over his incitement of the Capitol riot.

The app is Twitter-like in its features and design, allowing users to build custom profiles, follow others and create posts, which the app calls "Truths" and "Re-Truths" instead of tweets and retweets. It will differ from mainstream social media, however, in its plans for content moderation.

Truth Social joins a growing field of so-called alternative social media sites that say they'll protect free speech and allow users freedom to post what they like, with less moderation than Twitter and others.

Smaller social sites with conservative bents like Gettr and Parler are drawing some conservatives away from social media behemoths like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as Big Tech continues to confront how to moderate misinformation and hate speech on their sites — to mixed success.

In a statement last October, Trump derided how he was silenced by what he called "a small oligarchy of tech titans" and explained how Truth Social would differ from other sites.

"Unlike with the Big Tech platforms, there will be no shadow-banning, throttling, demonetizing, or messing with algorithms for political manipulation. We will not be treating users like lab rats for social experiments, or labeling alternative views as 'disinformation.' We will not silence our fellow citizens simply because they might be wrong — or worse, because we think that Americans 'can't handle the truth,' " Trump said.

Trump's site has a strong publicity machine pushing its message, with Trump allies like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz publicly praising the app, reports Allyn. Greene has been suspended multiple times from Twitter, including earlier this year when the site permanently suspended her personal account for "repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy." In 2020, Twitter restricted a tweet from Gaetz that the company said glorified violence.

Professor Jessie Daniels, who studies online extremism at Hunter College, says Truth Social may struggle to dominate the political discourse like Twitter does because Twitter's some 300 million users are varied, while Truth Social may attract mostly like-minded users.

One thing Truth Social may be planning to moderate on its site: disparaging Trump.

"I will note here that I checked out the app's terms of service, and there is one thing that is prohibited on Truth Social: to 'disparage, tarnish or otherwise harm' the backers of the site," Allyn reports. "I imagine that means Donald Trump."

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nell Clark
Nell Clark is an editor at Morning Edition and a writer for NPR's Live Blog. She pitches stories, edits interviews and reports breaking news. She started in radio at campus station WVFS at Florida State University, then covered climate change and the aftermath of Hurricane Michael for WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla. She joined NPR in 2019 as an intern at Weekend All Things Considered. She is proud to be a member of NPR's Peer-to-Peer Trauma Support Team, a network of staff trained to support colleagues dealing with trauma at work. Before NPR, she worked as a counselor at a sailing summer camp and as a researcher in a deep-sea genetics lab.