A rising tide lifts all boats. When one of those boats is owned by Elon Musk, the tide definitely rises quickly.
Recently, the Truth Social app has risen to the very top of the app store. While Donald Trump himself might not have much to do with this (he did post on the burgeoning social network just recently, although the Truth Social app became suddenly popular well before that), it’s obvious the new popularity is tied to Elon Musk purchasing Twitter.
That last phrase is still a bit hard to grasp. Wait, what? The fact that Elon Musk was able to orchestrate a buy-out like that, and the Twitter board was willing to go along with it, is still the biggest news in tech and will remain that way for months.
Perhaps the second-biggest surprise this year will be that the Truth Social app is popular, at least for now. It is now the number one most popular app in the Apple app store, followed closely by Twitter in the second spot as of today.
I wrote about Truth Social recently after finally gaining access and being able to try out some of the features. I wasn’t too impressed. It’s essentially Twitter without the large user base. Truth Social appears to have around two million active users, since that’s how many followers Trump has and you would expect all of the active users to follow him. Twitter has around 300 million. My guess is that Trump waited until the app became more popular to post to avoid making it seem like it was his campaign app.
So, you might wonder why Truth Social has gained some traction lately.
My theory is that there is a rising tide of users who want to share their opinions without having to deal with a biased content filter. I’m not going to get political about this topic, although as a journalist I am all for an open and fair dialog. I also feel most social media channels are filled with trolls and tend to provide an outlet for misinformation. My hope is that Twitter becomes less objective about content and more restrictive about users at the same time. And then there’s Truth Social.
Initially, users didn’t exactly flock to the new app. Part of the reason is that they couldn’t even use it. I’m one of the many early users who tried to create an account and ended up on a long wish-list. As we all know in tech, it’s hard to get excited about something you can’t even access. After waiting for a month or two, most of us just moved on.
When the news about Elon Musk buying Twitter first broke, it raised the question about openness all over again, and my theory is that there is pent-up demand for an app that won’t filter your viewpoints.
I’m not sure if Truth Social is the best app for that, since what I’ve seen so far is that there are mostly Trump supporters posting about Trump. It’s really more like a political ad campaign in the guise of an open platform for discussion.
Meanwhile, the Twitter buy-out keeps making headlines. I use the app BuzzSumo to track trending topics, and Musk buying Twitter has been the top story all week long.
As long as the topic of open social networks is on the minds of users, Truth Social will continue to be popular. As the news about the Twitter buy-out fades, I suspect the app downloads for Truth Social will fade as well.
Or maybe they won’t. My hope is that this newfound interest in less biased content filtering and more gatekeeping for abuse and misinformation leads to a healthier social media climate. Whether that’s on Twitter or some alternative doesn’t really matter to me.