It’s 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face each other on stage as NBC’s Lester Holt prepares to launch the first of four presidential debates.
The event begins with tradition, and the opening moments are filled with jokes and introductions. But then Trump answers the first official question.
The crowd is stunned by what they hear. Trump gave up on any pretext and said he was going to “build a wall” and “Mexico is going to pay for it.”
In rebuttal, Secretary Clinton just shrugs and says “no, totally.” I like it. Let’s do this. “
She then walks to the edge of the stage where she gives a round of applause for Trump, driving the crowd into an excited frenzy.
Trump leaves his podium to join Clinton. Together, they stand center stage, their folded hands raised above their heads in a triumphant moment of American unity.
That never happened
But, essentially, this is what life looks like on conservative social media sites. No, they don’t write Trump / Clinton fan fiction about Talking, Gab, and GETTR.
At least that would provide some sort of controversy or drama. It’s just boring there.
With no libraries to own or no opposing views to rally against, right-wing social media sites are pretty much just a bunch of people turning their backs on each other and shouting different versions of the same message.
TNW’s Ivan Mehta recently wrote an article in which he wondered what Donald Trump’s impending social media launch TRUTH would mean for conservatives on mainstream social sites.
According to Ivan’s article:
Earlier this week, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene was permanently banned from Twitter and Facebook. So she and her supporters might be looking for a new home (beyond Gettr). We are keeping an eye on the situation to see if the majority of right-wing leaders will move to this new social network.
It will be interesting to see how things play out. But, based on everything that has happened in the history of tech, it’s very hard to imagine how such a business could thrive beyond a brief period of excitement over the hype. .
Make no mistake, there is a lot to be said about targeted marketing. The incredible success of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has come on the back of the MAGA movement.
But My Pillow is not in direct competition with Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Microsoft and Google.
When it comes to technology, there are no special categories or exceptions for products or services just because they are political in nature.
Even if 50% of all social media users were Trump supporters, the TRUTH Network would have a smaller potential user base than Facebook.
And Twitter has around 206 million users per day. Even if all conservatives and independents in the United States signed up on a right-wing social media site, those sites would still split a potential user cap below Twitter’s current daily average.
This tells us two simple things:
- There is a near zero chance that big tech will buy out any of the current or soon to be launched right-wing social media sites. There’s no billion dollar salary down the road for Talking or Gab like Instagram and Tumblr did
- An ad-based income system meant to appeal to a particular demographic will depend on huge contracts and above-industry average conversion rates for clicks and purchases.
This means that right-wing social media sites have to beat Twitter and Google in their own games without being close to the potential investment, capital, or expected profits of these outlets. And with a fraction of the users.
How are things going so far?
While we wait for TRUTH to launch, let’s take a look at GETTR. The home of recent converts like Joe Rogan and MAGA devotee Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Rogan hasn’t posted on GETTR for over four days. For comparison, he posts several times a day on Twitter during the same period.
And Greene, well, she has two verified accounts on GETTR. One of them has 372,000 subscribers:
But 293K of them are actually Twitter users:
And his other account appears to have 626,000 followers, but it has the same name as his personal Twitter account, which has been permanently banned. We can’t say if those numbers include the roughly 465,000 Twitter followers she had before the shutdown.
But a preliminary survey conducted by TNW found that the overwhelming majority of Greene’s subscribers appear to have no profile information and have never posted on the site.
The Trump effect
The TRUTH Network has one thing to do that GETTR, Gab, and Parler don’t: Trump. It comes with the promise that it will be the former president’s personal platform.
But that’s the only promise the TRUTH can hold for conservatives looking for a Trump-led media network with an uncensored environment offering full freedom of speech.
In fact, all of the most popular right-wing social media sites have Terms of Service (TOS) that make it look like they’re straight out of the fine print of big tech.
Let’s look at GETTR’s TOS as an example:
My God ! This is almost identical to the T & Cs that you agree to when you sign up to use a Twitter account.
And the TRUTH will almost certainly not be child’s play either. You will not be able to post any bomb recipes, pornography, or illegal images. If you try to sell Molly on TRUTH, you will likely be swept away by the Federal Government. If liberals sign up just to harass MAGA, they will surely be banned, otherwise the site will be invaded by leftist trolls.
Almost all of my left-wing friends have joined Talk to fuck folks at MAGA, and each one of them was banned in less than 24 hours because the Conservatives really love free speech.
– Respectable Lawyer (@RespectableLaw) June 26, 2020
The simple fact is, the only difference between conservative social media and Twitter is that many MAGA enemies with Twitter accounts will not have accounts on TRUTH.
It is difficult to get your account banned for harassing someone who is not on the platform from which you are helplessly attacking them.
And this is where the problem lies. There’s a reason the UFC never Kata exhibits inside the cage where two fighters from the same team put on a non-contact technical clinic. It would be boring as hell.
Politics aside, if you want to tackle Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, dividing your audience into a demographic meant only to attract “MAGA supporters who hate conflict” seems like a very bad way to go.
Make no mistake, Trump and his partners are likely to make money with the launch of TRUTH. But comparing what TRUTH is trying to accomplish to what Twitter does is like comparing what Reddit has done with GameStonk to what Warren Buffet has done with his big tech investments over the past 30 years.
Ultimately, there is no exit strategy for the TRUTH. It is based on open source software. The sole goal of long term prosperity is to create a community of people who all subscribe to the same philosophy and seek to interact and purchase products and services from each other.
In other words: he has to convince people to ditch iPhones, Amazon, and Netflix in favor of any technologically inferior counterfeits that MAGA influencers are staging.
The only thing conservative social media has to offer that its traditional competition doesn’t have are Trump’s posts. And we’ll be able to read them on millions of MAGA Twitter posts seconds after they’re posted on TRUTH.
In order to profit from a business model that involves capturing a tiny fraction of the user base of an established industry leader, you must either innovate and create a vastly superior product or rely on a constant flow of people. willing to pay extra for substandard products in the name of your cause.
When Apple launched the iPhone, for example, it was targeting a very small user base: tech people with a lot of money. There were a lot of touchscreen phones on the market, but none of them were as technologically advanced and innovative as the iPhone.
When Erik Finman launched the Freedom Phone, on the other hand, he was simply selling a Chinese phone at a ridiculous price in order to fool MAGA fans with their money.
No sane person would compare Finman’s fake security nightmare of a Freedom Phone to the iPhone favorably, but I’m sure he made some money from it.
And the same goes for any social media network whose only innovation is to be a less technologically advanced version of Twitter or Facebook, but with posts from Donald Trump.
Getting people to the TRUTH shouldn’t be a problem. MAGA is the oldest political party (in the sense of dance and music) in recent memory. There is no hype like the MAGA hype.
But the important question is whether users will want to spend their time on TRUTH, or any other right-wing echo chamber, after a few months of cheering in the stands with no opposing team on the pitch.
If there are no libraries to own or leftist views to challenge, what good is it?