I spent a week on Trump’s new social media app Truth Social. I felt like I was exploring a ghost town.

Donald Trump (left) and a phone displaying his social media app, Truth Social.

There isn’t much happening on Donald Trump’s new social media app Truth Social.Brandon Bell/Getty Images/Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images

  • I spent a week on Truth Social, Donald Trump’s new social media app. It was like a ghost town.

  • Lots of prominent right-wingers, like Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro, weren’t anywhere to be seen.

  • Much of the content in my news feed was auto-generated and many of the app’s functions didn’t work.

After being kicked off Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube early in 2021, former president Donald Trump pledged to launch his own social media platform. About 13 months later, on February 21, 2022, he did just that with the launch of Truth Social.

I downloaded the Truth Social app on launch day and created an account – only to be told I’d been put on a waitlist in spot number 157,120. Three weeks later, on March 14, I was finally allowed to use the app.

And I found…not very much. It was like a conservative ghost town that had been overrun by bots.

Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind Truth Social, pitches its app as an alternative to the big social media platforms, which banned Trump for inciting violence during the US Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021.

The signs so far are that Truth Social is a flop.

Since it launched, downloads and time spent on the app have trended downwards. It has slumped from being the number one download on Apple’s US App Store to number 173, according to an analysis by Similarweb.

That’s partly down to the app’s lengthy waitlist, which keeps wannabe users locked out for weeks. But even when I got off the waitlist and into the app, followed the app’s most popular users, and scrolled through my feed, there still wasn’t much to see or do.

Here’s what I found.

My suggested follows were sometimes weird, and my feed didn’t contain much original content

Screenshot of list of Suggested Profiles from Truth Social. Includes, in order, Donald J. Trump, Truth Social, NFL, USA Military News, Banned TV Ads.

Rosie Bradbury/Insider

After completing the setup process for new users, I was prompted to follow 50 suggested accounts.

Of course, one was Trump’s account (823,000 followers). Another was Fox News anchor Sean Hannity (372,000). And another was the account of Kyle Rittenhouse (269,000), who in November last year was acquitted of all charges after fatally shooting two people during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Other suggested follows included the meme account “Cats with Jobs” (38,000), an account entitled “Hot Chicks Golfing” (61,000), and the official NASA account (113,000).

Once I’d followed these accounts, my feed of “truths” – what Truth Social calls posts – started filling up, but with very little original content. As I scrolled through my feed, I found that most posts were just linked-out articles on websites, posted automatically via RSS feeds.

Fox News didn’t appear to have an account

Screenshot of profile search for Fox News yields no verified accounts

Rosie Bradbury/Insider

A few media outlets, including Fox-owned tabloid TMZ and right-wing UK newspaper The Daily Mail, had Truth Social presences.

But other mainstream news organizations were missing: CNN, NBC, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal weren’t there (though there was no shortage of parody accounts for these publications).

Interestingly, Fox News, which was once Trump’s news network of choice, didn’t appear to have a presence. There was an account called @FoxNewsChannel but it only had 5,920 followers, and has only posted 30 “truths” altogether.

There was an RSS aggregating bot for Fox Sports’ website, which had 76,300 followers, but the account didn’t appear to be affiliated with Fox itself.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Sean Hannity were on there

Screenshot of profile of Marjorie Taylor Greene, A Georgia Congresswoman and active user of Truth Social

Rosie Bradbury/Insider

A few prominent conservatives were active on Truth Social.

Fox News host Sean Hannity had racked up 372,000 followers and was posting several truths a day. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and congressman Paul Gosar respectively had 71,600 followers and 12,400 followers.

But these accounts were the exception rather than the rule. A host of prominent Republicans and conservative commentators – including Ben Shapiro and Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – weren’t anywhere to be seen.

Through the app’s profile finder, I couldn’t find any verified US Senators, or Democrats from either congressional chamber.

I did find a few Republican lawmakers, though. Representatives Byron Donalds and Lisa McClain were there, with 1,000 and 233 followers respectively – but neither had posted any truths. Representative Clay Higgins was also there, with 4,320 users and seven posts.

Big news stories like the Russia-Ukraine war seemed to be getting minimal engagement

Screenshot of search for "Ukraine" in Hashtags tab of Truth Social. 1,320 people total are talking about #Ukraine

Rosie Bradbury/Insider

I could search for topic hashtags, but even hashtags you’d think would generate a lot of user engagement, like those related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, were barely getting any traction. For example, only 1,320 people were using the #Ukraine hashtag.

One Ukraine-related hashtag I surfaced on the app was #Ukrainebiolabs.

There’s a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine is engaging in clandestine bio weapons testing, funded by the United States. Still, the conspiracy theory has been spread by sites like Infowars and Russian disinformation channels. It was also mentioned on three separate Fox News segments hosted by Tucker Carlson.

Still, the hashtag linked to very few posts and had limited engagement.

The direct message function wasn’t working

Screenshot of the Messages tab of Truth Social, which reads: "Hello. A new direct messaging experience will be available soon. Please stay tuned."

Rosie Bradbury/Insider

Truth Social’s user interface closely resembles Twitter’s but has several gaps in functionality.

You can reply, reblog, and like truths but you can’t add your own comments in quote-tweet style. You can however block and mute users.

There’s a direct messages feature but it hadn’t been activated when I used the app.

Truth Social seems to have a service for verifying users with a red check mark, but few profiles had it. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin appears to have a Truth Social account, with one “Truth” posted and 5,010 followers, but her page wasn’t verified.

Trump had posted just once

Screenshot of Truth Social account of Donald J Trump, showing his single post.

Rosie Bradbury/Insider

Even the people you’d expect to be avid users of Truth Social, like Trump himself, are barely active.

A “truth” from Trump’s account, posted about a month prior, said: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”

The former president hadn’t posted since.

Even if Trump was posting frequently on Truth Social, he still wouldn’t be generating anything like the level of engagement he enjoyed on Twitter before he was banned. As of April 1, 2022, Trump had just around 823,000 followers on Truth Social – compared with 88 million followers on Twitter in early January 2021.

The app was overrun with bots

donald trump downcast crowd

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Truth Social was meant to be a haven for conservative discussion. It felt more like Bot Social. For example, many of the replies to Trump’s solitary post were adverts for a niche cryptocurrency. And even popular hashtags turned up mainly bot-generated posts or non-organic content.

It’s not impossible that Truth Social could take off at some point in the future. For now, though, it’s some way off becoming the social media platform of choice for Trump and his supporters.

And other apps that attract right-wing audiences, like Gettr, a “cancel-free” app founded last year by former Trump aide Jason Miller, have more users and are getting more daily engagement.

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