Thrown by Twitter, Trump seeks to build or redeem his way on social media

AAlmost immediately after Twitter and Facebook banned President Trump in January, Trump began looking for a way back on social media.

One possible route: via Gab, a social network popular among conservatives. Trump had never been active at the site, but when his team considered joining him in January, representatives of Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law to the president, requested equity in the company in return for the presence. and the voice of Trump. the platform, says Gab founder Andrew Torba. The offer was made over the phone, and Torba declined it: “The second it was brought up, it was, ‘No, I’m not having fun.'”

The former president is eager to return to social media, one of his most effective tools for building his political career and maintaining his base of support. But he’s being forced out of mainstream platforms after the Jan.6 insurgency on the U.S. Capitol prompted Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more to kick him out – pushing Trump to niche sites like Gab. And the demand for fairness in Gab doesn’t appear to be the first time such an idea has circulated: Brad Parscale, then Trump’s campaign manager, attempted to strike a fairness deal in Talk in 2020 in exchange for Trump doing conservative social media. app its main outlet, according to BuzzFeed.

Trump has never joined Gab or Parler, and a spokesperson for the former president denies that the fairness plea has ever happened. Parscale and former Parler CEO John Matze did not respond to requests for comment.

Spokesman Jason Miller told Fox News on Sunday that Trump will be launching his own social media network in about “two to three months”, praising it as “the most popular ticket on social media.” Trump confirmed the news a day later, without giving details of his plans. “I’m doing things having to do with setting up our own platform that you’ll be hearing about soon,” he said, appearing on “The Truth With Lisa Boothe,” a right-wing podcast.

Could Trump build a social media network from scratch? Maybe, but it would be difficult. Trump is expected to fight to install a new platform on Apple and Google app stores and find a web hosting provider like Amazon Cloud Services or Microsoft’s Azure cloud offering. But these companies have shown a growing reluctance to allow conservative applications to flourish using their technology. Apple and Google deleted Speak, another popular right-wing social platform, of their stores after the January uprising, while Amazon refused to host Talk on its cloud servers for longer.

Even if Trump might be successful in winning over big tech companies, it would almost certainly take more than a few months to build anything other than the most rudimentary site. “I don’t see this thing really taking off unless they’re willing to invest a lot more time than two to three months – and a lot more money than I think they’re probably willing to do,” says Nina Jankowicz, who is studying social media as a disinformation researcher in the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program.

Rather than building his own network, Trump could probably more easily buy one, then rename and expand it, and the openness to Gab is an indication that he may know that. Plus, Trump is a guy who often buys instead of build. The real estate billionaire hasn’t erected a new skyscraper from scratch since the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, which opened in 2009. More recently, he has turned to modernizing properties like Trump National Doral Resort in Florida and the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, a former post office, and signing licensing agreements at overseas sites it does not own.

He would have the money to make it happen. Former President’s Trump Organization Has More Than $ 100 Million In Cash, Says Forbes estimates. It still generates consistent profits on commercial real estate properties, even though they struggled during the pandemic. What about the debt? The company doesn’t have to start paying off its toughest loans until 2023. And it probably wouldn’t be more than around $ 5 million to set up a social media site, based on Pitchbook data on seed funding agreements. within the industry over the past year.

Meetings with Gab and Parler show that Trump faces resistance even among sites that share his policies. “It couldn’t be clearer or well documented how difficult it is to work with him,” said Cooper Teboe, Democratic fundraising strategist in Silicon Valley. “I don’t think an entrepreneur, whatever his political orientation, wants to partner with someone who will take 49% control of his business under certain conditions and decide a month later that he wants news. conditions. ”

As with anything Trump-related, the details of a purchase would almost certainly be fungible – whether he owns it entirely or owns it with other investors, pays in cash or goes into debt.

Talking and Gab would be the most obvious targets for the simple fact that they are the tallest of their genre. (Talking had a little more than 10 million users before its shutdown, Gab would have around 3 million, numbers that nonetheless paler compared to the hundreds of millions on Twitter and Facebook.) But negotiations having failed once with each, the president must now either revive talks with Parler or Gab or find a smaller house. to buy. For his part, Torba, the founder of Gab, is adamant that he would not return to the negotiating table. “Gab is not for sale,” he said. “There is no amount that would cause me to sell. Zero.”

While it’s not clear exactly how Trump might create a social network, experts who have studied his presence on Twitter, Facebook and other major platforms believe they have a pretty good idea of ​​what kind of content is said to exist. on a Trump-branded social app. “Hate speech,” says Leysia Palen, professor of computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It’s going to be incredibly inflammatory. Very, very loud and loud – and active. “Palen recently finished a post-mortem of several months on Trump’s Twitter account, finding an average of more than three dozen tweets per day. “And if it was 40 times a day when he was president, I think it’s going to be a lot more than that.

About Madeline Powers

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