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Trump-owned social platform ‘may feed his ego but will not be as big as Twitter’

Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter
·3-min read

A Donald Trump-owned social network may serve to feed his ego but will not have the same reach as Twitter, experts have said.

The former US president is reportedly plotting a social media comeback with “his own platform” in around two to three months, senior adviser Jason Miller has told Fox News.

He believes the site “will be the hottest ticket in social media” and would “completely redefine the game”, after Mr Trump was banned from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, which left five dead.

While the 74-year-old has the financial resources to explore such a venture, specialists have cast doubts on how effective it would actually be, with questions about his ability to secure technical expertise and the moderation minefield it could harbour.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra told the PA news agency he thinks it would make more sense for the 45th US president to partner with an existing social media platform such as Gab or Parler, which are “already swarming with alt-right supporters and Trump sympathisers”.

“Being stripped of his power as president and being banned from mainstream social media will have been a hammer blow to his ego,” he said.

“During his time as president, he quickly realised how effective platforms like Twitter can be in broadcasting his rhetoric to hundreds of millions of people, whilst cutting out mainstream news media which would likely not carry his messages.

“Therefore it comes as no surprise that he wants to try and circumvent his ban on most social platforms by building his own.

“He could easily burn through millions of dollars creating a new platform and no doubt quickly attract millions of users.

“However, the sorts of people which would swarm to such a platform would likely be the same groups who lurk on Parler and Gab.

“This may serve to feed Donald Trump’s ego as he would be preaching to the converted, but I highly doubt it will attract a more mainstream crowd with opposing views. And it certainly would not give him the reach and exposure that Twitter once did.”

Dr Bernie Hogan, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), said the real challenge would not be funding or technical expertise, but managing the users and policies.

“It’s the moderation that’s difficult, it’s the policies that are difficult, it’s all the legal stuff that Trump has demonstrated that he’s not good at that are the real challenges,” he told PA.

“Trump’s fans are going to make it difficult for Trump to have a viable social media and Trump’s detractors are going to make it even more difficult.

“It’s going to be an angry place full of paranoia and identity challenges, as people simultaneously worry about not being surveyed, and at the same time needing to have some sort of identity criteria there because they will be absolutely worried about trolls and disinformation, so I think it will be a very unhealthy space and it will probably burn people out very quickly.”

Twitter recently said it wants to hear from the public on whether or not world leaders should be subject to the same rules as others, while Facebook’s oversight board is currently assessing whether it was right for Mr Trump to be banned.