(CNN) – This Tuesday, Elon Musk confirmed it: He wants Donald Trump back on Twitter.
“I think it was a mistake to ban Donald Trump, I think it was a mistake,” Musk, who is buying the social media company, told the Financial Times conference. “I will undo the permanent ban…Trump’s ban on Twitter has not ended Trump’s voice, but it will amplify it among the right wing, and therefore it is morally wrong and stupid in every sense of the word.”
You might think, at first glance, that this is big news for the former president. After all, he’s clearly been missing the social network since he was blocked from it after the January 6, 2021 mutiny at the United States Capitol. He regularly posts press releases – through Save America PAC – that read just like his tweets.
However, Trump has put much of his post-presidency capital — both political and non-political — on a rival social networking site known as Truth Social.
And if Trump returns to Twitter, the cause of Truth Social – which is always flimsy – is completely over.
What puts Trump in a difficult dilemma: Should he stay, for reasons of money and pride, with the Truth Social? Or is he back on Twitter where supposedly over 80 million followers are waiting for him?
(Note: Trump doesn’t have to make that decision today. Or tomorrow. Musk doesn’t own Twitter yet, and even in the quickest case scenario, he probably won’t for a while.)
Trump, so far, has insisted on sticking to the Truth Social. “I’m not going to Twitter, I’m going to stick with the truth,” Trump said immediately after reports emerged of Musk’s purchase of the social media giant in April. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because it will make him better and he’s a good guy, but I’m going to stick with the truth.”
Which is good. It would have been foolish for Trump to ditch the Truth Social before he even knew a) whether Musk would actually buy Twitter and (b) if Musk intended to bring him back in office.
But now that the answer to both questions is “yes,” Trump’s predicament is a bit more complicated. CNN’s Gabe Orr reported Tuesday that according to a person close to Trump, the former president is currently committed to Truth Social, but is soliciting the opinions of his allies on whether he should join Twitter before a potential presidential run. The White House in 2024.
Also keep in mind that Truth Social does not set the social media world on fire.
Last month, The Washington Post published an article titled “Truth Social Network in Trouble as Financial and Technical Problems Escalate” Which included these lines: “The app – a fake Twitter nicknamed ‘The Facts’ – has seen its downloads drop so sharply that it has disappeared from the App Store listings. The company is losing investors, executives and interest.”
In recent weeks, Trump has been able to speed up the pace of posting on the Truth Social (he has posted four facts in the past 24 hours, most of which tout the success of his endorsement of candidates). The app is currently the seventh most downloaded app on the Apple App Store.
But from a general perspective, Truth Social doesn’t work. A special purpose buyout company designed to make the company public – Digital World Acquisition Group – has seen its shares plummet on news that Musk is buying Twitter. (Stocks rose briefly when Trump started to do so tweet “The Truth” on the podium at the end of last month. But the recovery did not last long.)
If money wasn’t a factor, that decision would be easy for Trump. He has a well-established and loyal Twitter base and will likely soon be owned by someone who has vowed to manipulate the free speech aspects of the site.
But money is a factor. We know Trump is a) less wealthy than he was when he took office and b) has a shrinking list of sources of income, as his overall personal brand has been influenced by his time in the White House.
The Truth Social was, in theory at least, a solution to Trump’s potential monetary problems. At least so far, it seems to be working. As Forbes wrote last month in an assessment of Trump’s net worth and the Truth Social: “Donald Trump, master of innovation, has a new title: Tech Entrepreneur. It’s an extension of this 75-year-old, who doesn’t even use e-mail and prefers writing notes With a brand. But he doesn’t mind getting involved in companies he has little prior experience, and this job should be much more profitable than the presidency. In fact, he has already increased his net worth by $430 million.”
There are 430 million reasons Trump can’t stay away from Truth Social. But the siren song on Twitter is getting louder. Musk appears intent on bringing the former Trump back to the stage.
It’s a real problem for Trump. Whichever path you choose, you lose: influence if you keep the Truth Social, and money if you go back to Twitter.
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