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In blow to conservatives, Trump rules out Twitter return to focus on TRUTH Social

April 26, 2022, 11:15 AM UTC

The reinstatement of Donald Trump’s Twitter privileges has been the proverbial elephant in the room ever since Elon Musk launched his $44 billion hostile bid to acquire the company.

The former President became the highest-profile casualty of its content moderation policies, after he was banned for “inciting violence” following the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. And while Musk has not explicitly said he would like Trump to return, the centibillionaire has made clear his opposition to heavy-handed suspensions that could be perceived as corporate censorship by Big Tech.

Right-wing pundits and influencers have relished the idea of Trump’s return to the platform, with one, Andy Ngô, noting (in a tweet) that Twitter employees had used internal chats to indicate that “their biggest fear is Donald Trump being unbanned.” But in a blow to their hopes, Trump has now ruled out a return to his favorite microblogging platform in order to focus all efforts on building up his own platform he calls TRUTH Social. 

“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” he told Fox News on Monday.

Rather than potentially tweeting again if given the opportunity, he pledged to begin “TRUTHing” over the next week.

Trump claimed he didn’t want his platform to be an echo chamber for conservatives, however.

In his view, Twitter became boring after the interaction between right and left diminished following the exodus of his most ardent followers. Fox commentator Mark Levin, for example, just returned after suspending his own account in protest last January, one day after Trump’s ban.

“TRUTH is a platform for my voice and for my supporters,” Trump told Fox, “but I want everybody to come over to TRUTH—conservatives, liberals, whatever.”

The divisive former president has struggled to achieve the same reach as he did when his Twitter channel was a must-follow for Americans on both the right and the left. At one point he had over 88 million Twitter followers, with many populist fans abroad as well. 

The ex-president started his own blog entitled “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” but canned it after less than a month. 

Not to be dissuaded, he launched TRUTH Social this February with former California congressman Devin Nunes as its CEO.

It started with a bang, becoming the most popular app on the Apple App Store the day it launched, but demand swiftly tailed off. Reports subsequently suggested downloads collapsed by over 90%, in part because the former president himself chose not to use it.

‘Totally different’ from Twitter

Speaking to Fox host Sean Hannity on Monday, Nunes said he was more than satisfied with platform’s engagement, arguing it already is outperforming Facebook on the Apple App Store.

Nonetheless, he praised Musk for taking out “one of the big and worst tech tyrants there has been, what I used to call the Twitter sewer.” 

According to Nunes, he is not positioning TRUTH Social to be a direct competitor to Musk’s soon-to-be-owned company going forward. 

“Twitter is a global PR wire on the internet,” Nunes told Hannity on Monday, explaining that his vision for TRUTH Social is more of a community. “Twitter is a totally different platform than what we’re creating.”

He wants users to get their content straight from conservative outlets by bypassing the current duopoly of gatekeepers.

“The two big companies here are TikTok, Chinese-owned, and Instagram…those are where the eyeballs are at. And when you have 95% of the news being fake out there, being funneled through these social media companies, it’s very, very dangerous for America,” Nunes said.

While other platforms like Gettr, Parler, Gab, and Telegram have a notable follower base, they still fall short of the scale of Twitter—one reason why Trump’s own children Donald Jr. and Ivanka continue to actively post to the platform despite their father’s ban.

And since Trump is a savvy media personality, he may very well choose to come back at a later date, especially if he declares another run for the presidency next year.

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