The Launch of Trump’s Social App Was a Complete Shitshow

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On Presidents’ Day, Donald Trump finally launched his social media app, Truth Social, after hyping the platform as a digital space where users could be “free from political discrimination.” But if the former president was hoping for a triumphant return to social media after being booted off Twitter and temporarily Facebook for inciting an insurrection, what he got instead was a launch plagued by technical problems.

People wanted to sign up for the app: It holds the number one spot on the Apple App Store’s “top free apps” chart as of Tuesday afternoon. But aspiring users were met with numerous glitches and outrageously long wait times. Some attempting to join on Monday were simply forwarded to an “access denied” error page. When I attempted to sign up on Tuesday, I made it through the email-confirmation portion, but was sent to a dead end before I could complete my registration. “Something went wrong. Please try again,” the app stated after I filled out the final sign-up form. (Apparently, I did well in this labyrinthine process: It took one Business Insider reporter five tries to even get through the initial email-confirmation step.) Many of those who were able to create accounts were greeted with a new message of rejection—a temporary and friendlier one. It read: “Thank you for joining! Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist. We love you, and you’re not just another number to us,” according to screenshots shared on Twitter. The wait list appeared to be more than 100,000 names long. 

If Trump’s right-wing followers were curious about reading the terms of service they were supposed to agree to before using the platform, well, too bad. Some users received an “access denied” message while trying to see the app’s ToS page. ​Truth Social also reported a “partial outage” on Monday caused by “application launch traffic,” which lasted for more than a dozen hours. Additionally, the Daily Dot, a tech-news site, on Sunday exposed a notable security defect in the app, as the developers’ beta version was mistakenly left open to the public. This back-end flaw allowed the Daily Dot to not only register the @realDonaldTrump username—Trump’s preferred handle—but also uncover an account lauding late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. (The outlet was unsure if the “Papa Pinochet” account was made in earnest or was merely being used to check the effectiveness of the app’s content-moderation system.)

And of course it would not be a true Trump business venture without possible legal troubles. In a viral tweet, one Twitter user noted that the Truth Social logo is nearly identical to the logo used by Trailar, a U.K.-based fuel efficiency company. Trailar’s head of marketing told the Daily Beast that the company is “now seeking legal advice to understand next steps and options available to protect our brand.” (The Trump Media & Technology Group did not immediately respond to Vanity Fair’s request for comment on its logo controversy and error-filled launch day.)

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Nonetheless, the rocky rollout does not appear to have shaken investor confidence in Truth Social. Digital World Acquisition Corp., the blank check company backing Truth Social, saw a 14% jump in its stock, with its per-share price surging to $96.36 on Tuesday, according to Reuters. That post-launch share price marks the highest the company has seen since it announced in October that it would publicly list the Trump Media & Technology Group.

TMTG’s financial backers, who have purportedly provided $1 billion in investments for the company, are perhaps expecting the technical problems to be cleaned up over the next month. Devin Nunes, a former GOP lawmaker and the current CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group, noted on Sunday that Truth Social would be fully operational in the U.S. by the end of March. Even if the problems are fixed, and Trump’s dream of creating a platform that “[stands] up to the tyranny of Big Tech” materializes, the app’s users will still be censored if they run afoul of its moderation policies. Last month Nunes said that the site would be “very family-friendly,” adding that the platform would be “a very safe place, and we are focused on making sure any illegal content is not on the site.” Kevin Guo, who runs the A.I. company that Truth Social has recruited to moderate user content, said posts containing “nudity, drugs, violence, hate speech, spam, and bullying” would be moderated in a “very proactive” but apolitical way.

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