By Julia Love and Helen Coster
(Reuters) – Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, appears set to launch in Apple’s App Store on Monday, according to posts by an executive on a test version seen by Reuters , potentially marking the former president’s return to social media. during the US Presidents Day holiday.
In a series of posts Friday night, a verified account of the network’s product manager, listed as Billy B., answered questions about the app from people invited to use it during its testing phase. A user asked when the app, which was available for beta testers this week, would be released, according to screenshots seen by Reuters.
“We are currently set to release in the Apple App Store for Monday, February 21,” the executive replied.
The launch would restore Trump’s social media presence more than a year after he was banned from Twitter Inc, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube following the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters, after being accused of posting messages. inciting violence.
On February 15, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., posted a screenshot of his father’s verified @realDonaldTrump Truth Social account to Twitter along with a message, or “truth,” that he uploaded on February 15. February 14: “Get ready! Your favorite president will see See you soon!”
Led by former Republican U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), the company behind Truth Social, will join a growing portfolio of tech companies that are positioning themselves as champions of free speech and hoping to attract users who feel their point of view. are deleted on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So far, none of the companies, which include Twitter rivals Gettr and Parler and video site Rumble, have managed to match the popularity of their mainstream counterparts.
“This week we’re going to start rolling out to the Apple App Store. It’s going to be great because we’re going to have so many more people going to be on the platform,” Nunes said in an appearance on Sunday. on Fox. News’ ‘Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo’.
“Our goal is, I think we’re going to achieve it, I think by the end of March we’ll be fully operational at least in the United States,” he added.
Along with the release disclosing the launch date on Monday, screenshots seen by Reuters show the app is now at version 1.0, suggesting it has reached a level ready for public release. As of Wednesday, it was at version 0.9, according to two people with access to that version.
A representative for TMTG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple’s App Store listing says Truth Social is slated for release on February 21, a date a source close to the company confirmed in January. But in recent weeks, Nunes had publicly stated that the app would launch by the end of March.
On Friday, Nunes was on the app urging users to follow more accounts, share photos and videos and join conversations, in an apparent attempt to increase activity, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Among Nunes’ posts, he welcomed a new user who appeared to be a Catholic priest and encouraged him to invite more priests to join, according to the person with knowledge of the matter.
NO WAY TO CHANGE THE ‘TRUTHS’
The product manager’s other responses during Friday’s Q&A session suggested the startup’s features would resemble those of Twitter.
When asked if users would be able to change their “truths”, the executive replied “not yet”. The ability to edit posts after posting is something Twitter users have been looking for for a long time.
The next major feature released on the platform will be direct messages, or DMs, between users, the executive wrote.
The company is also considering allowing users to sign up to receive notifications when others post content, the executive said. He pointed out that the ability to block other users would be an important feature.
“There will always be blocking functionality in the app,” he wrote.
Truth Social will release a policy on verified accounts “in the coming weeks,” the executive added.
Even though details of the app are beginning to leak out, TMTG remains mostly shrouded in secrecy and is viewed with skepticism by some in tech and media circles. It is unclear, for example, how the company is financing its current growth.
TMTG plans to list in New York through a merger with blank check company Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), and is expected to receive $293 million in cash that DWAC is holding in trust, assuming no DWAC shareholders are redeeming their shares, TMTG said in an Oct. 21 press release.
Additionally, in December, TMTG raised $1 billion in committed funding from private investors; this money will also not be available until the DWAC agreement closes.
Digital World’s business has come under scrutiny from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to a regulatory filing, and the deal is likely months away. of the conclusion.
(Reporting by Julia Love in San Francisco and Helen Coster in New York; Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein in Washington; Editing by Kenneth Li and Daniel Wallis)