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Trump Media’s Achilles’ Heel

Donald Trump
Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty
Tina Nguyen
February 24, 2022

Over President’s Day weekend, the Trump Media Technology Group soft-launched their first product: Truth Social, the long-anticipated, Donald Trump-backed social media platform that investors hope will rival Twitter and Facebook. Well, they tried to launch it, anyway. Although the mobile app was approved for Apple’s App Store, the company itself was forced to bump its official launch date by a month, and the app initially crashed whenever people tried to sign up for the waitlist. (It’s been four days, and I still can’t get past a 405 Error page.) These inconveniences, however, didn’t stop the SPAC that intends to merge with TMTG from exploding in value: in a single day, Digital World Acquisition Corp.’s stock price, already up around 700 percent since the merger announcement, spiked another 17 percent.

Of course, there remains the possibility that TMTG dies before the merger with DWAC closes, thanks to a pending S.E.C. investigation. Or, more likely, that TMTG—which is promising to build a streaming video business to rival Netflix and CNN and Disney—plummets in value when those plans fall apart. But Truth Social, whether it survives or not, is already a thicket of issues involving off-the-shelf technology, meme-stock gamesmanship, disinformation, political echo chambers and larger geopolitical forces; all complicated by the omnipresence of Donald Trump—his ego, his lackeys, and his all-consuming need to bolster his political brand while stewing in political absentia in Mar-a-Lago.