There have been several efforts to replace social media site Twitter with “free speech” alternatives in the wake of the banning of sitting President Donald Trump and years of anti-conservative bias. Perhaps the most notable of all Twitter alternatives is former President Trump’s Truth Social – a social media platform by the Trump Media & Technology group that got off to a rocky launch in February of this year. Despite all of that, Trump made his return to social media on this platform last week.
After months of technical wrangling to get the Truth Social site up and running, and the purchase of Twitter by free speech advocate Elon Musk, the former president is faced with choosing between continuing his new venture in the technology space or re-joining Twitter.
And it looks as though he’s already made that decision.
Donald Trump Says He Won’t Return
Speaking to Fox News on last Monday, the former president said that despite Musk’s purchase of Twitter and commitment to restoring freedom of speech on the platform, he will not be rejoining.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” Trump said. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH.”
“We’re taking in millions of people, and what we’re finding is that the response on TRUTH is much better than being on Twitter,” Trump also said. “Twitter has bots and fake accounts, and we are doing everything we can.”
Trump, a long-time user and fan of the social media platform, grew increasingly critical of the platform as it introduced increasingly strict content moderation policies. Musk himself said on Twitter on Wednesday that Truth Social exists only because of censorship on Twitter.
Can Donald Trump Resist the Urge?
Absent a new social media that the former president and businessman recognizes as an opportunity to monetize his support from millions of American social media users, the former president would no doubt have returned to Twitter the moment the deal was done.
With so much on the line for his Trump Media & Technology group, a business venture that will likely avoid many of the boycotts that his Trump Organization businesses have faced in the last six years is likely very attractive to the former president. Joining Twitter could hinder efforts to bring his millions of social media followers over to the new platform.
On the flip side, a failure to rejoin Twitter may prove a wasted opportunity in the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump is widely expected to run. Twitter was a powerful tool throughout the former president’s first campaign in 2016 and during his time in the White House.
While an immediate rejoining of Twitter may not be on the cards once the deal with Musk is finally completed, there may be some room for the former president to mirror posts he makes on Truth Social – once it is fully operational – on Twitter.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.