Feb 27, 2022 - Technology

Scoop: Truth Social verifies white nationalist Nick Fuentes

Nick Fuentes in 2017 at a Boston University pro-Trump rally. Photo: Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Truth Social, Donald Trump's new social network, has verified an account for Nick Fuentes, who has been labeled a "white supremacist" in Justice Department filings, according to screenshots of the account shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The Trump-backed network is welcoming a figure barred by mainstream social media and shunned by some other conservative platforms, including Gettr, the app from former Trump aide Jason Miller.

Driving the news: Nick Fuentes made headlines in recent days for hosting a white nationalist conference in Florida on Friday in which Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) participated.

  • At the conference, Fuentes said, "And now they’re going on about Russia and Vladimir Putin is Hitler — they say that’s not a good thing," per a Twitter video. He then laughed and said, "I shouldn't have said that."

Details: In the past few days, Fuentes has been sharing content that other social networks, including Gettr, have limited.

  • "Retruth if you are a Groyper," Fuentes wrote last week, referring to a group of far-right activists and white nationalists. His Truth Social bio reads "Host of America First," his streaming channel, and "Groyper Leader."

Other conservative personalities, like former Blaze TV host Jon Miller and "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander, are also verified on Truth Social, in addition to several Republican members of Congress.

  • "By allowing people like me & Nick Fuentes on here - Truth Social has already shown far more integrity than Gettr or Parler ... Hopefully it stays that way!," wrote a user with the handle @BakedAlaska, which appears to be the account of far-right media influencer Anthime Joseph “Tim” Gionet, who was charged for his participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.
  • One Twitter user noted that his account was permanently banned when he tried to register the user handle "@DevinNunesCow," a reference to a joke Twitter account that purported to be run by a cow owned by former Rep. Devin Nunes, who is currently the CEO of Truth Social. Nunes pursued an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit to get the account removed.

Screenshots shared with Axios suggest the platform is trying to foster legitimacy by adding pages for mainstream sports and media networks.

  • Truth Social displays accounts for various brands, including @NFL, @FoxSports, @ESPN and others. Sources confirm that none of those accounts were set up by the entities they claim to represent, although they are set up to look like they are real brand accounts, via links and logos.
  • There are "BOT" labels on those accounts, which may suggest the Truth Social accounts are reposting content those brands have published on other social media sites.
  • Last month, Axios reported that Truth Social was reaching out to social media influencers — including a few that had publicly posted anti-Trump content — asking them to “reserve their spots” for the network's launch in February or March.

The big picture: The Truth Social launch is supposed to mark Trump’s return to social media after being suspended from most social platforms last year, but so far, it’s unclear how ready the app is for wide use, as Axios has previously noted.

  • The new app launched in Apple's app store last week, but faced a slew of technical and security setbacks.
  • Truth Social partners with Silicon Valley artificial intelligence firm Hive to provide content moderation for the app.
  • In an interview with Axios last month, Hive co-founder and CEO Kevin Guo said Truth Social's integration with Hive is several months old. Hive's technology is meant to help weed out sexually explicit content, bullying, violence, hate speech, and other material Truth Social has said it will prohibit.
  • Guo told Axios Sunday that Truth Social makes the ultimate decision on which accounts to ban, but noted that "we’ve seen numerous examples in recent days of accounts being banned based on hate speech / violence, suggesting that Truth Social is in fact moderating as we expect. "

Yes, but: Among pro-Trump conservatives, the app is likely to be popular. Truth Social was the top free app in the Apple app store the day it debuted. There are around 300,000 people on Truth Social's waitlist, per The Washington Post.

What to watch: So far, Trump himself doesn't appear very active on the platform. He has not posted anything, aside from a first post — which said "Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!" more than a week ago.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from Hive CEO Kevin Guo.

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