Devin Nunes, the former California congressman who gave up the seat he held for 19 years to lead the company, had said the app would be “fully operational” by the end of March. But it was crippled by technical issues, including a waiting list that tied up hundreds of thousands of potential users in its crucial first weeks online.
Trump privately fumed about the app’s slow rollout and considered joining other platforms such as Gettr, one of its biggest competitors, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke under on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
Spurred on by the former chairman’s frustration, Nunes scrambled to install his own staff at the top of the struggling company, which led to the resignation of its heads of technology, product development and business. legal, according to people familiar with the turmoil. The departures were first reported by Reuters and Politico.
They said Nunes regularly visits Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida to brief the former president and discuss platform issues. Trump remains hopeful that the platform will eventually be lucrative, but he’s been reluctant to post on it because “it’s not ready for prime time,” a close adviser said.
He has, however, continued to pay attention to Twitter, which he has repeatedly criticized as irrelevant since the site banned him last year. He still reviews tweets from politicians and members of the media from time to time, two of the people said.
Truth Social was to be the flagship of Trump Media & Technology Group, a startup that Trump advisers said would become a “media powerhouse” encompassing online video, entertainment and news.
But his early issues hampered Trump’s ability to center himself in the online spotlight and raise money from his fans.
The app, which was downloaded about 200,000 times on its launch day, dropped to an average of 10,000 daily installs last month, according to estimates from analytics firm Sensor Tower. The app has been installed around 1.2 million times since its launch on February 21.
Trump recently had dinner at Mar-a-Lago with billionaire Peter Thiel, a longtime investor in Facebook’s parent company Meta, who plans to step down from his board this year to focus on other projects. It’s unclear if they’ve discussed Truth Social, but Thiel is a major backer of Rumble, a video site popular with conservatives that now provides Trump’s app with back-end tech services.
Representatives for Trump, the Trump Company and Thiel did not respond to requests for comment.
Some right-wing influencers have soured not just on Truth Social — saying its online censorship policies are just as problematic as those of the Big Tech sites they’ve criticized — but also on the whole prospect of a safe space for people. conservative conversations online, arguing that the echo chamber may limit their ability to reach an audience.
But even without setting the internet on fire, Truth Social could give Trump some advantages. The social network registration page could allow the company to access phone numbers and email addresses of a wide assortment of donors and potential voters.
And if the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approves its merger with Digital World Acquisition, a “special purpose acquisition company” (SPAC) used for “blank check” investing, Trump’s firm could have access to the more than $1 billion that investors have committed since the company’s grand ambitions were announced late last year.
But even that could be questioned. The merger remains under investigation by the SEC, which voted last week to make all SPAC offerings legally responsible for the financial projections they make to investors. This policy change could open from companies that offer wildly optimistic projections to potentially costly lawsuits for investors.
The Trump SPAC saw a flood of cash soon after its launch, but its share price has fallen since the app launched, threatening the cash cushion the company may need for growth.
The stock price slid 10% on Monday after reports of executive exits and started Tuesday with another 10% decline. SPAC also missed a deadline on Thursday to file its annual report with the SEC, saying it would take up to 15 more days to complete the work.
Potential users of Truth Social have complained for weeks about a seemingly immobile waiting list that tops 1 million people. A user who signed up shortly after the app launched said that when he finally received an invite, the welcome email directed him to a broken link.
Those who join are greeted by Trump’s official account, which has 846,000 followers — less than 1% of his lost Twitter followers — and a single post from nearly two months ago saying, “Get ready! Your favorite president will see you soon!
Former Trump deputy chief of staff Daniel Scavino Jr. posted 263 “truths,” starting with a post showing a red ocean wave and the message: “WE ARE MORE THAN THEY ARE! posted near same to Twitter.
Among the app’s recent additions are Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who got accounts last week. Eric has posted eight times, including to ask, “If Trump were to make a Hard Cider (thinking about adding it seasonally to Trump Winery), what should it be called??” Trump Jr.’s first message was “Who’s ready for a truth!” ; the second was a meme image of actor Jada Pinkett Smith with hot dogs in her mouth.
Trump’s wife, Melania, hasn’t posted on the app for three weeks. There are no officially tagged accounts for Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, or his former vice president, Mike Pence.
Some of the biggest meme-sharing accounts on Instagram have launched Truth Social accounts in hopes of capitalizing on new audiences. But engagement on the app remains incredibly low: besides #Truth, all of the most popular hashtags – including #Ukraine, #Inflation and #GasPrices – are marked in the app as having less than 1,000 “people speaking “.
The app has faced the same issues that have plagued more established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, including being inundated with fake news, doctored photos and foreign government propaganda. Some users, including longtime Trump booster Roger Stone, have also complained that the app censors their posts.
But Truth Social users also faced more basic technical headaches. The app’s content is viewable only in its Apple iPhone app – there’s no Android version to download – and links to individual “truths” don’t open in a standard web browser. Last month, the app’s developers also reported that due to memory issues in the database, users are “currently experiencing slow distribution of truths.” (The issue, they said, has since been resolved.)
The company’s recently resigned chief legal officer, South Florida attorney Lori Heyer-Bednar, said in an interview with the Conservative Political Action Conference in February that the company was working around the clock to clear the application waiting list and troubleshoot other issues. saying, “We’re working as fast as we can.”
She gave a “shout out” to the team at Truth Social, saying it had “been absolutely amazing to launch this product, not just on time, but early. Again, Trump did it. Promises made, promises kept. Two of those executives have since left the company. Heyer-Bednar did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump has struggled to get attention online since being blocked by all mainstream social networks last year. His last big attempt at online communication, a blog, was snuffed out after 29 days.
He continued to message about his products, television appearances, and golf game via email. Republican campaign groups, however, have regularly used the Truth Social name in fundraising emails, saying the platform is “already #1” and people should sign up for the social network. “RIGHT NOW to prove you’re a patriot.”
Some Trump aides have turned their attention to another product, a recently launched news aggregation app aimed at conservatives, MxM News, which could serve as an alternative to the Drudge Report, which once praised Trump but has since been became the center of his anger. After Trump Jr. promoted it last month, some people online said they hoped it would be as successful as Truth Social.
Douglas MacMillan and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.