Former President Donald Trump says he’s not interested in rejoining “boring” Twitter even if he’s offered his account back under Elon Musk’s new vision for the company. Instead, Trump claims he’s focused on sticking it out on his already flailing social media upstart Truth Social.
On Monday, Twitter announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Musk, which, once complete, will result in Twitter becoming a privately held company. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said Musk’s estimated $US44 ($61) billion deal to acquire Twitter would mark an improvement, but wouldn’t sway him to quit Truth Social.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” Trump said. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH.”
It’s worth noting the former president and social media junkie hasn’t actually even technically enrolled in his own social media app yet. After holding out for more than a month, Trump now says he’ll start “TRUTHing” sometime in the next week. Trump previously attached his name to a disaster Twitter-like blog last year which was shut down after less than a month following abysmal sign ups. But this time, Trump says things are different.
“We’re taking in millions of people, and what we’re finding is that the response on TRUTH is much better than being on Twitter,” Trump said. “Twitter has bots and fake accounts, and we are doing everything we can.”
The former president’s statements come amid uncertainty over whether Musk’s recent non sequiturs over free speech and content moderation will result in Twitter reinstating Trump’s account. The former president was deplatformed from pretty much every major internet platform, including Twitter, following the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. In true Musk fashion, rather than say one way or another his plan for Trump’s account, Musk opted to post a cryptic Tweet, writing, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.” Later in the day Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal reportedly dodged staff questions about Trump’s account during an all-hands meeting according to CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan. Twitter did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
Trump’s comments echo previous statements where he said he, “probably wouldn’t have any interest” in returning to the site because it’s less exciting than when he was using the platform to stir shit, harass other users, and come up with presidential policies seemingly on the fly via Tweet.
“You know, Twitter has become very boring,” Trump said according to Reuters. “They’ve gotten rid of a lot of their good voices…a lot of their conservative voices.” On Monday, hours ahead of news of Musk’s deal with Twitter, Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) CEO and former Republican Congressman Devin Nunes reiterated that sentiment in an interview with Fox Business.
“Look, until you get in there and get that company [sic] and wipe out everything that’s been happening there for the last several years, I just see Twitter right now as nothing but a PR wire.”
TMTG didn’t respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Elon Musk’s Twitter Could be a Disaster for Smaller Right Wing Social Media Apps
Though Musk hasn’t given too many specifics on how he plans to fundamentally change Twitter (or why he even wants it in the first place) many commenters and activists worry his commitments to his interpretation of free speech above all else may actually translate to less content moderation and more harassment.
In a statement sent to Gizmodo, a spokesperson from the advocacy group Media Matters warned of potential dark times ahead at Twitter under Musk’s leadership.
“Elon Musk will unwind a whole range of very basic protections against harassment, abuse, and disinformation that Twitter has spent years putting into practice — effectively opening the floodgates of hate and lies and using Twitter’s position as a market leader to pressure other social media companies to backslide,” the spokesperson said. “With this sale, you can fully expect Donald Trump’s account to be restored along with a whole host of other accounts that engaged in abuse, harassment, and repeated violations of Twitter’s rules. The race to the bottom begins.
Other advocacy groups like UltraViolet fear new changes to Twitter’s moderation policies could result in increased harassment for marginalised groups.
“If this deal pulls through, and Twitter converts back into private enterprise without express conditions to maintain community standards, Musk would rip open Pandora’s box and reopen the floodgates for hate and baseless conspiracy theories,” UltraViolet communication director Bridget Todd said in a statement emailed to Gizmodo. “Twitter would revert into a more dangerous place for women. Harassment and threats of violence online, especially against Black women and women of colour, would skyrocket. Donald Trump would likely be replatformed, where he could continue spreading disinformation, proliferating baseless conspiracy theories, and inciting more violence to millions of people.”
Changes to Twitter’s moderation approaches could also, ironically enough, prove detrimental to Trump’s social media plans. Put plainly, an anything-goes Twitter would essentially make Trump’s business model irrelevant.
Trump Media and Technology Group, which at one time attained an absurd implied valuation of $US19 ($26) billion, vowed to create a free speech focused, right-wing friendly digital ecosystem capable of taking on some of the biggest names in tech. That logic ceases to apply though if Twitter eases its policies on speech and moderation. Recent polling from Morning Consult suggests Republican internet users who otherwise might seek salvation in Truth Social or other right wing sites are in favour of many of Musk’s proposals related to Twitter.
There’s already real signs Musk’s Twitter takeover has some in the Trump orbit spooked. Digital World Acquisition Corporation, the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) partnering with Trump Media and Technology Group, saw its shares plummet 15% on Monday in anticipation of Musk’s Twitter deal. That blow means DWAC’s trading at its lowest point since the Trump team announced its partnership with the company around six months ago. Stepping back further, CNN notes DWAC has lost around 44% of its value since Musk had revealed he’d amassed a large stage in Twitter earlier this month.
Trump, on the other hand, says he doesn’t see a problem and told Fox he welcomes the competition.
“We want liberty and justice and fairness in our country, and the more we can have open, the better,” Trump said. “But no, I don’t view that as a competition for what I am doing.” The former president went on to say the real appeal to Truth Social lies in access to, you guessed it, Donald Trump.
“TRUTH Social will be a voice for me,” Trump continued. “And that’s something nobody else can get.”
If Trump holds true to those words, it could spell trouble for Gettr, Parler, Gab and other smaller right-wing aligned social media sites that have reportedly jockeyed for months to get the former president on their platform.