Jan 25, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Trump's new social network quietly courting influencers

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Former President Trump’s elusive new social media network Truth Social — which plans to go public — is reaching out to internet influencers asking them to “reserve their spots” for when it launches in February or March.

Why it matters: The outreach doesn’t mention Trump’s name or affiliation. Some influencers suggest that could be a ploy to enlist their support without realizing the affiliation.

Details: In an email to influencers obtained by Axios, a representative on behalf of Truth Social’s VIP department named “Ana” asks if those influencers would like to “reserve” their “preferred username for when we launch in late February/early March.”

  • The emails come from [email protected]. (The holding company for the app is called Trump Media & Technology Group, or TMTG.)
  • They are signed by “Ana” but don’t include a last name. The contact number has a Palm Beach County area code and is a dead number.
  • The email address used to reach out to influencers appears to be working, although there was no response to an email inquiry from Axios. Truth Social did not respond to request for comment.

The intrigue: Some of the the influencers that have been solicited are Democrats and publicly posted anti-Trump content.

  • Jeremy Jacobowitz, a food-based blogger and internet personality, has several of examples of anti-Trump content posted on his TikTok.
  • Gillie Houston, a Brooklyn-based food and travel writer, said she doesn't intend to respond and has been vocally anti-Trump.

The big picture: Truth Social has been the subject of a lot of intrigue, in part because the company has offered few details about who's building it.

  • Sources tell Axios there's likely engineering coordination between Rumble, a YouTube rival that appeals to conservatives, and Truth Social. Rumble announced earlier this year it would partner with Truth Social to provide infrastructure for the new app.
  • Truth Social CEO, former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, told Fox Business over the weekend the company is looking for partners like Rumble that "will ensure, to the best of our ability, that once we do go live, will have a safe place that Big Tech cannot cancel."

Between the lines: While Truth Social has yet to reveal many details about its inner workings, there‘s some evidence the platform has been working to get up and running in the months ahead.

  • On Monday, Fox Business reported Truth Social is partnering with Silicon Valley artificial intelligence firm Hive to do content moderation for the app.
  • In an interview, co-founder and CEO Kevin Guo told Axios that Truth Social's integration with Hive is several months old. "They’ve been integrated with us from Day One," he said.
  • He noted it's common for apps to integrate with Hive's moderation technology before they launch.
  • Hive also does content moderation for Parler, among other apps.

What to watch: Truth Social will enter a crowded field.

  • Parler, a Twitter alternative embraced by conservatives, raised $20 million earlier this year.
  • Former Trump aide Jason Miller's new social app “Gettr” now has 4 million users, according to the company.
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