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The Elon effect: Trump is suddenly posting on Truth Social again

AP Photo/Joe Maiorana

First time since February. It can’t be a coincidence, right?

Actually, it can. I think there are three factors here, not all of which have to do with Musk, that conspired to renew Trump’s interest in his own platform.

1. Truth Social’s tech problems seem to have gotten untracked. Devin Nunes, the CEO, has been running around on right-wing media outlets this week to let people know that the platform is now being hosted on Rumble’s servers. Those servers can accommodate millions of users, which means the notorious “wait list” problem for people who sign up on Truth Social should finally be solved. “Since we opened up wide open on Saturday, we’ve just had a flood of people coming through and they continue to come through, and it’s one of the fastest-growing social media companies in history,” Nunes boasted to Newsmax today. Two days ago he turned up on Fox News and nudged the hosts there to start posting more:

Maybe Trump felt embarrassed by the site’s early snafus. Now that those have been resolved, he’s willing to show his face there again.

2. Nunes wasn’t joking about people flooding into the platform now that signing up for an account has gotten easier. Truth Social jumped to number one in the Apple app store as word got around, a development that caught the eye of none other than Elon Musk.

“Before April 23, Truth Social had not previously ranked since March 12,” one analyst told The Wrap. “This was also the first time Truth Social has ranked at No.1 on the overall U.S. App Store since Feb 24 shortly after its launch.” Philip Bump has an interesting graph showing how quickly Truth Social leaped to the top of the app charts. The Rumble switchover and Nunes’s campaign surely have helped, but I wonder if the announcement that Musk had bought Twitter also nudged some hardcore MAGA types to “choose sides” and give their hero Trump a vote of confidence by downloading his app instead of Musk’s. Think of it as the social media equivalent of a casual voter deciding to turn out and vote for his candidate once he sees a new poll showing that candidate suddenly in danger from a rising competitor.

Whatever the explanation, we all know how hung up Trump is on “ratings.” Knowing that his app was suddenly number one may have lured him back to posting, assuring him that he’d be part of the “hottest” social media platform in America.

3. There’s definitely a Musk factor. Musk’s takeover of Twitter is a mortal threat to Truth Social inasmuch as he’s promising to do the very thing Trump’s platform vowed to do except on a much bigger stage, namely, make social media hospitable to right-wing viewpoints. That was one of the two chief reasons to prefer TS to Twitter and it’s now up in smoke. The other reason is to be able to follow Donald Trump’s content and see it immediately when he posts — except that, until this afternoon, Trump wasn’t posting. Nunes and other Truth Social personnel were begging him behind the scenes to get going, I imagine, knowing that he’s the platform’s only real asset, but he held out.

The arrival of Musk at Twitter meant that he couldn’t hold out any longer. If Trump didn’t start “truthing” at TS immediately, he risked having the platform’s users give up on it and him and begin switching over to Twitter en masse in hopes that Musk can provide the sort of forum they’re craving instead. Trump is now the only thing Truth Social has that Twitter doesn’t — *if* he posts. If he doesn’t, they’re dead.

So he posted. And in a flash, the value of his company’s shares jumped six bucks after hours:

That’s how important Trump’s consistent — and exclusive — participation in Truth Social is. Although given how frequently his fans and cronies amplify his statements by posting them to Twitter, there are destined to be entire Twitter accounts created for the purpose of re-publishing whatever he posts on Truth Social. (See, e.g., the first tweet above.) That is, if you want to know what Trump is “truthing,” you’ll be able to find that out on Twitter five minutes after everyone at Truth Social does. So what’s the reason to sign up for his platform, really? Just MAGA solidarity?

We all know he’ll be back on Twitter eventually, tweeting away. Musk should offer him a thousand backs to acquire Truth Social. He might take it.