Donald Trump made a promise on Monday.
“I think Twitter is going down,” he wrote on his Truth Social social media platform. “Bots, Spam, Fake Accounts (and more!), all add up to big trouble but the biggest trouble of all for them them is that, no matter how many times they may ask, or admit they were wrong, I will never go back on Twitter again – TRUTH IS BETTER!”
Which is interesting, right? The former President pledging to never return to Twitter is saying something!
Remember that Trump directly linked Twitter to his 2016 victory. “I doubt I would be here if it weren’t for social media, to be honest with you,” he said in 2017. “When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it. The other way, I would never be get the word out.”
So, it seems like a big deal that Trump is still staying away away from Twitter – whether or not billionaire businessman Elon Musk a) buys the social media site and b) reinstates Trump’s account.
Except that you shouldn’t believe Trump’s pronouncements about Twitter.
Why not? Consider these two numbers: 88 million and 3 million.
The first is the number of Twitter followers Trump had when he was banned from the site in the wake of the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol.
The second is the number of followers Trump has on Truth Social.
A bit of quick math produces this: Trump had roughly 30 times as many followers on Twitter as he does on Truth Social.
Which is a BIG difference!
The truth, ahem, of Truth Social is that it has had its fair share of struggles. In April, The Washington Post published a story headlined “Trump’s Truth Social in trouble as financial, technical woes mount.”
As of Monday morning, Truth Social was the 22nd ranked social media app available on the Apple app store. (I didn’t even know there were 21 other social media apps!)
Now, consider what we know about Trump: Being buzzy, being talked about, being the center of attention is absolutely essential to him. It is what drives him.
And it is beyond debate that Trump had more influence over the national conversation back when he was on Twitter. A single tweet from Trump – both as a candidate and then as President – could hijack a news cycle for days.
No matter whether you love or hate Trump, it’s impossible to conclude that he has that same sway over the public on Truth Social. Reporters – like me – track what Trump says on the app but it is far from a mainstream product.
Trump is no dummy. He knows that his voice is significantly lessened by being banned from Twitter. While he has a financial incentive to keep Truth Social afloat – the site would almost certainly collapse if Trump left it – the former President is always driven primarily by what gets him the most attention and influence.
And that is, without question, Twitter. Which is why you shouldn’t believe his pronouncements that he would never return to Twitter. He would – in an instant.