By Sarah TITTERTON
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (AFP) — Former US president Donald Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch his own social network, in the latest push to reclaim his internet dominance after he was banned from Twitter and Facebook in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.
The move is likely to further strengthen speculation that Trump is gearing up for another presidential run in 2024.
“TRUTH Social” will be owned by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), and is expected to begin its beta launch for “invited guests” next month. It is already available for pre-order in Apple’s App Store, the group said in a statement.
TMTG also intends to launch a subscription video on-demand service that will feature “non-woke” entertainment programming and will be led by Scott St. John, an executive producer from “America’s Got Talent,” the statement said.
For years, Trump, who wielded Twitter in particular as a rhetorical weapon during his presidency, has battled tech giants that he argues have wrongfully censored him.
“I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump, banned from Twitter and Facebook for stoking the January 6 US Capitol attack, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable.”
US Congressional investigators are examining the January 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol nine months ago in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.
They had been egged on by Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day falsely claiming election fraud was the culmination of months of baseless claims about a contest he lost fairly to Joe Biden.
The investigative committee has charged that Trump was “personally involved” in organizing the attack.
The free-speech fight escalated when the world’s dominant social media platforms banned Trump as punishment for stirring up the mob that ransacked Congress.
Facebook banned Trump indefinitely on January 7, later narrowing the ban to two years.
Twitter quickly followed, permanently suspending Trump’s account — which had more than 88 million followers at the time — due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
Ever since, Trump has been looking for ways to reclaim his internet megaphone, launching several lawsuits against the tech giants.
In May, he launched a blog called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” which was touted as a major new outlet — but he pulled it from the internet just a month later.
Former Trump aide Jason Miller launched a social network called Gettr earlier this year, but the former president has not yet joined it.
Shortly after TRUTH Social was announced, Miller congratulated Trump on “re-entering the social media fray.”
“Now Facebook and Twitter will lose even more market share,” he said in a statement tweeted by Gettr.
The TMTG statement said the group will merge with blank check company Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) to make it a publicly listed company, with the transaction giving TMGT an initial enterprise value of $875 million.
“Given the total addressable market and President Trump’s large following, we believe the TMTG opportunity has the potential to create significant shareholder value,” DWAC chief Patrick Orlando said in the statement.
Trump, meanwhile, has been holding public events, including campaign-style rallies, as he seeks to remain the nation’s most influential Republican.
He has teased a potential 2024 presidential run but has made no announcement on his political future.