Trump’s $1.2 Billion Twitter Handcuffs

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
April 26, 2022

Everyone besides Democrats was in a celebratory mood yesterday, it seemed, after Twitter accepted Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer to take the company private. The richest man on earth, who also happens to be an unrepentant, red-pilled memelord, has promised to turn the media’s most beloved social platform into an anything-goes free speech playground. But for MAGA world, at least, the World Series-level victory was bittersweet. Shortly after the deal was announced, Donald Trump told Fox News that he would not return to Twitter if Musk invited him back. Instead Trump claimed he would remain on his own platform, Truth Social, where he plans to begin posting (“truthing”) within the coming days. 

As a political strategy, this seems unwise: Trump returning victoriously to Twitter would have provided a jolt of pure adrenaline to the far right, immediately re-establishing his position as the loudest voice in the MAGAverse, and bending the news cycle yet again to his will. It would also, of course, amplify his position as the G.O.P.’s 2024 frontrunner. As I reported earlier in the Musk takeover saga, Trump would have rejoined Twitter “in a heartbeat,” according to someone familiar with his thinking and tweeting brain.

But Trump’s alleged loyalty to Truth Social, the tech-savvy MAGA set believes, is financially motivated. As the chairman and principal behind the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), whose primary product is a social media platform, Trump is a fiduciary of a Twitter competitor. And, if you recall, TMTG entered into a SPAC agreement with Digital World Acquisition Corporation (DWAC) last fall. He’s locked into a pending merger with a publicly-traded company that, on paper at the moment, is worth $1.3 billion. Should the deal be completed, he will own 58 percent of the public entity, per Bloomberg. It’s unclear what reps and warranties Trump is subject to, as is the nature of what might comprise competitive behavior, which would impact investors, and TMTG did not return a request for comment regarding whether Trump could post on a competitor’s platform.