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Truth Social Has an Advantage as Rival Right-Wing Apps Fail| GuyWhoKnowsThings


After former President Donald J. Trump was started Twitter In 2021, conservative businessmen were quick to promote social media alternatives tailored to him and his followers.

There were Parler and Gab, sites similar to Twitter popular between the people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6. Then came Gettr, a social media app created by one of Trump's former advisers.

That crowded field has now narrowed, giving an advantage to Truth Social, the platform owned by Trump's company and where he is the main attraction.

In March, Social Truth logged 1.5 million unique visitors in the United States when its parent company began trading on public markets, up 130 percent from the previous month, according to Similarweb, a data company that tracks web traffic. While the app's visitor count was minuscule compared to major social sites, it was 13 times greater than the combined total recorded by Parler and Gettr.

Truth Social's closest competitor was Chat, a hotbed of anti-Semitic and racist posts, which attracted 246,000 unique visitors in March, according to Similarweb. (Andrew Torba, founder of Gab, disputed that figure, saying that Gab had about 6.5 million unique visitors in March, but its numbers could not be independently verified.)

Truth Social's performance has major implications for Trump's finances. When the app's parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, began trading on the Nasdaq Last month, it rose to a valuation of $8 billion. Trump, who owns about 58 percent of the company, suddenly became billions of dollars richer, giving him a financial lifeline as he faces hundreds of millions of dollars in legal bills tied to the civil and criminal matters. cases Against him.

But just because Truth Social is more popular than some of its competitors doesn't mean it has a viable business.

Since March, Trump Media's stock price has plummeted. reducing Trump's stake amounts to about $2 billion. In securities filings this month, the company revealed that its 2023 revenue was $4.1 million, all from advertising, with $58 million in losses.

Truth Social has outperformed the competition primarily because its rivals have faltered. Gettr was plunged into uncertainty last year when a key investor was arrested on fraud charges. Gab is not available in major app stores, which forbidden in 2017 for allowing hate speech. And Parler is trying to make a comeback, after it temporarily closed a year ago amid an ownership reorganization.

Truth Social is “the best of several unpopular or very niche platforms,” said Josephine Lukito, a social media expert at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied Truth Social. “Even with Donald Trump, he doesn't have the level of popularity that a mainstream platform has.”

Truth Social remains far behind X, formerly known as Twitter, which has since lifted restrictions on fringe political voices. Elon Musk bought it in 2022. X had nearly 115 million unique visitors in March, more than 75 times the traffic on Trump's platform, according to Similarweb.

In a statement, Trump Media spokesperson Shannon Devine said Truth Social had a highly engaged audience of “millions of users,” with thousands of new ones joining each day. She said the company had more than $200 million in the bank and no debt.

Trump Media has not revealed much about the level of activity on Truth Social. In corporate filings, the company omitted data that social media companies typically track closely, such as the number of monthly or daily active users. The company has not “relied on any particular key performance metrics to make business or operational decisions,” as such statistics promote “short-term decision making,” according to a document.

Still, Truth Social enjoys a crucial advantage over other right-wing apps: Trump.

After Twitter banned him for posts inciting violence on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump was approached by two former contestants on his reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” They offered to put him at the center of a new platform that would not censor his posts. Trump reached a deal with Truth Social that gave him a majority stake in the company.

But Truth Social wasn't the only platform that wanted to build an audience around Trump. In July 2021, Jason Miller, one of Trump's former campaign advisors, launched Gettr, which also had a format similar to Twitter.

He competence was fierce. Gettr executives closely followed Truth Social's progress, and Miller once expressed concern that the app had launched a direct messaging capability before Gettr, two former employees said.

But Miller's main goal was to persuade Trump to use the site. On television he said that there was reserve a Gettr identifier for the former president.

The charm offensive worried Truth Social executives, according to documents a former employee provided to The New York Times. A daily log kept by the site's leaders includes multiple entries mentioning Miller's efforts to appeal to Trump. (One entry also noted that “Melania really likes the name Truth Social.”)

In 2021, Trump Media lawyers sent Miller a cease-and-desist letter, asking him “to stop recruiting President Trump” and citing Trump's contract with Truth Social, according to a presentation.

Trump kept Truth Social and Gettr withered. In February 2023, Mr. Miller left the company to join Trump's presidential campaign. A month later, federal prosecutors loaded one of Gettr's main investors, Guo Wengui, with money laundering and fraud arising from a variety of business activities.

Miller declined to comment. Gettr did not respond to requests for comment.

Speak too tried – and failed – to get Trump to post on his site. After the January 6 riots, Apple, Google and Amazon remote the app from its stores, citing issues with content moderation. In 2022, Kanye West agreed to buy Parler, but the deal fell apartand the site closed last year.

Parler is scheduled to relaunch next month, said Elise Pierotti, the company's chief marketing officer. At the moment, the app is in a testing phase and is not intended to attract much traffic, she said.

As for Trump, Pierotti said, “If you're interested in our platform and want to come on board, we'd be open and we'd love to.”

For now, Gab remains Truth Social's closest competitor. But the platform, founded in 2016, has faced problems for years. In 2017, Google and Apple removed it from their app stores, citing the proliferation of hate speech.

Gab's average monthly traffic decreased nearly 40 percent from 2022 to 2023, according to Similarweb. In an email, Gab's Torba said those numbers were incorrect because Similarweb relies on data from third-party analytics providers that its app does not use. Tom Liu, vice president of Similarweb, said the company also worked with Internet service providers to collect data and applied a common methodology across all the websites he evaluated.

Before Trump Media's public debut last month, there were signs that Truth Social's growth was stalling. The site attracted about 100,000 new users in the six months before the public offering, according to Stanford Internet Observatory estimates, compared with nearly 250,000 users in the same period a year earlier. But in March, the number of users on the site increased by more than 100,000.

As part of a public company, Truth Social has other advantages, including publicly traded stock that it could use to make acquisitions or increase hiring. On Tuesday, Trump Media said it was close to starting a video streaming service that would focus in part on “content that has been canceled.”

The platform has also outperformed its rivals in attracting other conservative candidates, Dr. Lukito said. Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, 54 Republican candidates posted on Truth Social, his research shows, compared to 37 on Gettr.

Those numbers remained small compared to X, which included posts from 363 Republican candidates.


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