In January 2021, multiple social media channels banned Donald Trump. By February, news emerged that the former US President might launch his own social media platform. But is this really true?
During his time on social media, Trump was active and expressed a lot of discontent towards various social media sites. But those platforms were a powerful tool for reaching his followers.
So, could Trump be about to launch his own social media platform? What might it look like and who would potentially join?
Who Said Trump Wants His Own Platform?
In February 2021, Sky News Australia reported that Trump might be in the process of starting his own social media platform.
Jason Miller, the former President’s Senior Advisor, mentioned that he thought there was a “very good chance” Trump would launch a new platform.
Miller also said:
There have already been a number of meetings about both joining existing social media platforms and potentially also setting up brand new social media platforms.
In the same interview, the Senior Advisor also said that possible new brand names have already been considered. However, he did not give any suggestions as to what these might be.
Why Would Trump Want To Launch His Own Social Media Platform?
Since being kicked off major platforms, Trump does not have a mainstream social media platform where he can voice his opinions. Twitter permanently suspended the former President’s account in January 2021 following the riots at the Capitol in Washington DC.
At the time, Twitter published a statement explaining its reasons for the ban. In this, the company said that it chose to ban Trump permanently “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”.
Twitter has also since mentioned that even if Trump runs for President in the future, he will not be allowed back onto the platform.
Twitter isn’t the only platform to have banned Trump. Following the January riots, Facebook chose to extend the then-outgoing president’s ban. At that point, he had already been suspended until at least the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Trump is also banned on Instagram, but he has filed an appeal on both platforms.
As reported by USA Today, the Facebook Oversight Board said:
We can confirm that a user statement has been received in the case before the Oversight Board concerning President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
In January, Snapchat also permanently suspended Trump. Twitch is another platform that has revoked the former president’s access.
Trump’s Distrust of Social Media Companies
The former US president has a general distrust of social media companies, which might also prompt him to start or invest in his own.
Despite being one of his most-used apps before his ban, Trump did not spare Twitter from criticism in the past. He accused the platform of interference during the 2020 election. Brad Parscale, Trump’s Campaign Manager, also accused the platform of “clear political bias” in May last year.
In the same month, the former President also signed an executive order to challenge Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In this legislation, companies like Twitter are considered “platforms”, not “publishers”.
Since social media channels are classified as platforms, they have liability protection under Federal Law.
The Trump vs. TikTok Dispute
Another platform that Trump has had an antagonistic past with is TikTok. During his time in the White House, he pushed hard for a ban on the platform in the US.
At the time, Trump said he believed that TikTok—and other Chinese-owned companies—posed a threat to national security.
In August 2020, Trump signed an executive order to push forward with a ban on TikTok. But his efforts were stopped in their tracks two months later when a US judge opted against banning the platform.
Moving into December, a second judge chose to block the executive order against TikTok.
In February 2021, President Biden asked for a pause on the attempted TikTok ban—as well as another one against the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
Who Might Join Trump’s Social Media Platform?
Trump had a substantial social media presence, gaining over 70 million Twitter followers before the platform chose to remove his account. His official Facebook page had 33.1 million likes at the end of January 2021, with the number at the time of writing dropping to around 32.9 million.
In the interview with Sky News Australia, Miller also said people would likely be interested in what Trump had to say. He believed that Trump was “still driving the news”, even though his social media presence was gone, and that “everyone wants to know what he’s doing”.
If Trump were to launch a new social media platform, he would probably attract a significant audience.
According to an August 2020 Pew Research Center poll, 90 percent of participants identifying as Republican said that social media platforms likely censor political viewpoints.
This belief might encourage more people to join a new network created by the former president.
Alternative social media platforms have already gained conservative support in the past. For example, the platform Parler had attracted 11 million downloads before it was temporarily taken down in January.
There’s also a possibility that Trump could attract some of Clapper’s former audience. The platform, which is similar to TikTok, had become popular with QAnon believers. Now, however, it has started to remove all related content.
What Would Prevent Trump Starting a Social Media Site?
There are a few obstacles that Trump would face if he were to try start a new social media site.
Firstly, there’s the infrastructure. Platforms that can securely host an audience of millions can’t simply be built overnight. They often take years to develop and substantial investment.
Also, if Facebook’s Oversight Committee overturns the decision to ban Trump, one of his most useful platforms will be restored. This would reduce the need or desire to start a completely new site.
A New Trump Social Media Platform Might Be on the Way
The world will have to wait and see if Trump decides to launch his own social media platform. But going by what his Senior Advisor has told the media, there’s a chance he will either do so or partner with an existing channel.
Much of Trump’s decision to launch a new platform may depend on the Facebook Oversight Board’s verdict for his page.
Trump had a large following on all of his social media platforms. If he was to create a new channel, the chances are that he would attract a significant number of users. But he would need the tech infrastructure in place to support that audience, which is easier said than done.