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Trump to launch platform to rival Twitter and Facebook.

Donald Trump is launching a social media platform called Truth Social, which will go public via a merger with a blank-cheque company, as the former US president seeks to capitalise on his popularity among a large cohort of Republicans.

The move comes after months of speculation about whether Mr Trump would launch a media company to compete with Twitter and Facebook and set the stage for another presidential run in 2024.

Mr Trump, who used Twitter extensively during his 2016 campaign and four years in office, was banned from the platform, along with Facebook, YouTube and other big social media networks in the wake of the January 6th attack on the US Capitol.

The former president said in a statement on Wednesday that the new app would be controlled by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG).

“I created Truth Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” he said in a statement. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American president has been silenced. This is unacceptable.”

Mr Trump and other Republican politicians have accused Big Tech companies of censorship and bias against conservatives

Digital World Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company launched by Patrick Orlando, will merge with TMTG in a deal that values the business at $875 million, with a potential to rise to $1.7 billion based on the performance of the stock.

Truth Social is already available for pre-order on Apple’s App Store, where it is scheduled for release next year. The app is described as “America’s ‘Big Tent’ social media platform that encourages an open, free and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology”.

Relatively low profile

The former president has kept a relatively low profile since being stripped of his social media accounts and skipping Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. But he has continued to issue press releases through his “Save America” political action committee and publicly toyed with another bid for the White House in 2024.

He held a rally this month in Iowa, an important state in the presidential nominating process, and has endorsed several candidates ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when control of both houses of Congress will be in contention.

Mr Trump and other Republican politicians have accused Big Tech companies of censorship and bias against conservatives, and have called for an overhaul of the laws that govern a platform’s liability for the speech they host. Several smaller “free speech” platforms have sprung up, with some vying recently to become partners with the former president to give him a platform.

Jason Miller, a former senior adviser to Mr Trump who this year set up his own social media platform intended to appeal to conservatives called Gettr, issued a statement congratulating his former boss.

“Now Facebook and Twitter will lose even more market share,” Mr Miller said. “President Trump has always been a great dealmaker, but we just couldn’t come to terms on a deal.”

Mr Miller did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

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