How Truth Social, Trump’s Social Media Platform Really Works

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Over Presidents Day weekend, like many others who had signed up for the Apple App Store pre-order of Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social, I received a notification to open an account.

And, like everyone but a few hundred lucky VIPs, I was put on a waiting list.

However, weeks later Truth Social decided to open the door for me and grant me access to their brand new “free speech” social media platform.

The time has come. I was invited to join Truth Social.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

“Your wait is over!” read the notification that arrived at 2am on a Saturday morning. “Tap here to start using Truth Social.”

So I did. It’s Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited social network. I had to check.

I can handle the truth

Tapping on the iOS notification took me straight to the app, showed a welcome screen which popped up and was only noticeable for less than a second, then I got spun to my Truth Social profile.

Truth social profile page

This is what your profile looks like when you first enter Truth Social.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

My profile was empty. I also saw that there were ‘Truths’, ‘Truths & Answers’ and ‘Media’ tabs just below where your followers and profile bio are. If you’ve ever used a small website called Twitter — which the founder of Truth Social launched after the events of January 6, 2021 — this might all sound familiar. Sure, the labels for things are changed and instead of the “light Twitter blue” UI color scheme, you get a “light social truth purple”, but everything else is the same.

I will say that compared to other alternative conservative “free speech” social media platforms like Parler and Getter, Truth Social is by far the nicest of the bunch. It looks a lot more like a modern web platform, probably thanks to Mastodonthe open source software it is built with.

Truth social composition screen

This is where you write your “truth”.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

There’s a little floating button – much like on Twitter – that you press to compose a “truth”. Pressing the button was deja vu again as the compose screen looks exactly like Twitter’s. One thing that struck me though was that the character limit is 500 characters, which is 220 characters more than what is allowed per tweet on Twitter. Finally something different!

At the bottom of the Truth Social app is a 4-tab menu: Feeds, Alerts, Search, and Messages.

Social flow of truth

This is what your feed looks like when you first join Truth Social. “No truths to show”…
Credit: Mashable screenshot

Truth Social Profiles

Top profiles listed on Truth Social’s default search page.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

The feed is like your Twitter news feed, filled with posts from all the users you follow. Search offers users a way to discover new profiles, truths, and popular “trending” hashtags. Alerts are the equivalent of Twitter notifications, showing all the “truths” – basically retweets – and mentions of your handle. Messages is where other users’ private messages would live, if they worked. According to the Truth Social app, a “new” messaging experience is on the way, and there doesn’t appear to be a way to send private messages to other users at this time.

Social Truth Alerts

Mentions and re-truths will appear here.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

Truth Social Posts

Messages don’t seem to be working on Truth Social yet.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

When a user accesses another user’s profile, they can follow that user as well as re-truth, like and respond to their truths. Clicking on one of a user’s truths will show comments on that post, but not all the time. More on that in a minute.

Truth Social Profile

The official profile of Truth Social.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

Users can mute and block others from the site, change some general appearance settings, and also enable 2-factor authentication from an in-app sidebar.

Social Truth Settings

You can block users on the Free Speech Platform.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

And that’s about it. That’s it for Truth Social right now.

Truth Social Hashtags

The most talked about hashtags on Truth Social at the time of publication.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

Bugs and issues

There are some pretty major bugs on Truth Social. It is clear that it is still a beta application. As I mentioned earlier, there doesn’t seem to be a working direct messages feature. The search function doesn’t seem to work particularly well either. For example, when I searched for the user “Trump”, I was inundated with fan profiles of the former president. Yet not a single profile belonging to the Trump family — not even Donald Trump himself — appeared in the results.

Social truth "Trump search query

Donald Trump does not appear in search results for “Trump”.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

After posting a “truth”, it took several updates for my post to appear on my profile page. It took so long I thought it got lost for a minute and doubted it would ever materialize, but it finally happened.

Those comments that were mentioned earlier that don’t always show up? They show if a post has no more than a hundred comments. If a user tries to view comments for a post that has hundreds of comments or more, they simply won’t load. It’s not clear if this is an issue where the server can’t handle the load or if this part of the app is just poorly coded.

Social Truth Dan Bongino

Truth Social was able to load these 160 replies to Dan Bonino’s post, but it was unable to load the comments for a similar post from Bongino with 500 replies.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

In addition to the iOS notification, users also receive an email notification when their account is ready. However, if a user clicks on their desktop, they encounter a 404 page because… there is no desktop version of Truth Social!

Then there are the content issues. Truth Social markets itself as a “free speech” platform, but, of course, it has community policies and guidelines like even Big Tech social media platforms. On the one hand, Truth Social has already ban a user for registering a username that its CEO Devin Nunes doesn’t like.

hard truths

Over the past few days there have been a few articles about Trump”moans” and be “madon the ‘failure’ of Truth Social’s launch. As these reports mention and I can personally attest to, the former President of the United States has only released one ‘Truth’ since its launch ages ago. over two weeks ago The social media app debuted atop the App Store charts, but has since dropped precipitously down the rankings.

Trump's Truth Social Profile

Trump has posted on Truth Social once in the weeks he has been live.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

But, more telling than Trump only posting once is how many people follow Trump there. At the time of this article’s publication, just over 200,000 people were following the former president on Truth Social. Trump is apparently the reason Truth Social exists – a place where people can hear about its founder after he was banned everywhere else! If you are considering using Truth Social, one would assume that he would be the first person you would follow. He is also the first user to offer a suggestion when you open the search tab, before entering a search query.

Other journalists who have had access to Truth Social in recent days, such as Politico’s Ruby Cramer, have Noted how dead Truth Social seems.

“Not much happening on the site,” Cramer wrote.

And that’s true. It’s a brand new platform after all. The problem is or engagement on the site – what little there is, at least – is happening. It’s the same problem that has plagued Truth Social competitors like Parler and Gettr. All the action happens in the comments of its most popular users. People are just looping through conversations with others who stumble upon their thread into a reply section full of thousands and thousands of comments.

Truth Social Truths

Truth Social’s best posts seem to come mostly from verified users.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

If you’re not Trump or Dan Bongino or another conservative influencer, you hardly see any interactions on Truth Social. Worse, these personalities barely recognize people who are conversing in their responses. All of this gives the average user very little reason to stay on the platform. It’s a bit ironic because the average Truth Social user is often the type to mock “blue tick” verified users on Twitter for their verification badge. Yet here on Truth Social, the only users who seem to be generating real engagement are verified users with the little “red tick” from Truth Social.

social truth bot

The NFL is not actually on Truth Social.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

Additionally, looking at the “suggested” top profiles when accessing the search tab, users will notice a number of accounts such as @NFL, @DailyMail, and @Military that are labeled “BOT”. According to Truth Social, these are just automated feeds that aren’t even affiliated with the organization or outlet they represent. The @NFL “BOT” account, for example, just seems to post the latest NFL-related ESPN articles. How many Truth Social “BOT” accounts were created on behalf of a third party without their consent?

Alternative “free speech” platforms like Truth Social tend not to have advanced algorithms recommending users to follow or new posts to check out. Truth Social, for example, doesn’t even suggest users follow when signing up. Everyone’s first Truth Social experience is just an empty feed without any content, which seems like a good way to keep new users from coming back.

Whether you’re a Trump”hatefulor are willing to storm the Capitol for him, there’s one thing we can probably all agree on: Trump isn’t boring. But his social media platform certainly is. This is bad business for Truth Social users, and very bad business for The Donald himself.


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