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Trump’s social app marred by bugs and apparent ban on Devin Nunes cow accounts

President Trump's banned Twitter account seen on the display of a smartphone.
Enlarge / Trump decided to make his own social network after being banned from Twitter.

The rollout of Donald Trump’s social network has predictably been a disaster. Truth Social’s debut on Monday was marred by technical problems and a gigantic waiting list, while some people who actually were able to use the service complained of being “censored.”

Truth Social “has been almost entirely inaccessible in the first days of its grand debut because of technical glitches, a 13-hour outage and a 300,000-person waitlist,” The Washington Post wrote yesterday. Trump Media & Technology Group CEO Devin Nunes said on a Fox News show that Truth Social’s goal is to be “fully operational at least within the United States” by the end of March. The waiting list is now over 500,000.

Truth Social is available only on iOS. I used the iOS app to sign up on Monday, to test whether I could create an account despite all the technical problems. My account was created, but I am still #188,221 on the waiting list. An Android app is supposedly “coming soon” to the Play Store. A status-update page said Monday that Truth Social developers have “stabilized the account creation process” and “are working to increase the rate of new account creation.” Truth Social was built using Mastodon open source software.

Former Trump lawyer and current Newsmax contributor Jenna Ellis poked fun at the rollout, posting a photo on Instagram of Trump in front a laptop with the caption, “Trump right now letting us on to Truth Social one at a time.”

What can you find on Truth Social? Error messages

On the Truth Social website’s homepage, there is no option to log in, but you can enter your name and email address to join the waiting list. Doing so today resulted in a “405 Not Allowed” error message. That homepage form has a checkbox for agreeing to Truth Social’s terms of service and privacy policies—while the checkbox works, the form’s links to both documents today led to an error message that said, “Sorry, but it looks like this page does not exist.” Working links to the documents are available on a separate help page.

The Truth Social terms ban “offensive or sexual content” and content that is “false, inaccurate, or misleading.” Truth Social also says users may “not advocate or incite, encourage, or threaten physical harm against another.” Trump himself used Twitter to spread misinformation and was eventually banned from Twitter for inciting violence.

As of this morning, Trump’s account on Truth Social “had just under 50,000 followers… a far cry from the tens of millions of followers he had on Twitter before he was barred from the social media platform last year, following the attack on the Capitol by some of his supporters,” The New York Times wrote.

The format of Truth Social is apparently similar to Twitter except that tweets are called “Truths” and retweets are called “ReTruths.” A help page describing the service misspells its name as “TRUH Social.”

Don’t make fun of Devin Nunes or his cow

Created by the Trump Media & Technology Group, Truth Social claims to be a haven for free speech. “Truth Social is America’s ‘Big Tent’ social media platform that encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology,” the homepage says.

But if you don’t want to be banned from Truth Social, you should steer clear of making jokes about CEO Nunes, a former US Representative. Web developer Matt Ortega created a Truth Social account called “@DevinNunesCow” and says he was banned before he even posted anything. “This is censorship,” Ortega wrote on Twitter. The @DevinNunesCow account name is a reference to the satirical “@DevinCow” Twitter account, which gained a big following after Nunes sued it for defamation in 2019.

Mashable explained what happened with the attempt to create a Nunes parody account on Truth Social:

Web developer Matt Ortega signed up for the Truth Social service and soon discovered an email from Truth Social telling him that his account had been banned. Ortega confirmed the authenticity of the email and ban in a private message to Mashable.

Furthermore, Ortega had never posted a single thing to Truth Social as his account was one of the many still on the waitlist to join. Ortega was banned simply because of the username he used to sign up for the platform: @DevinNunesCow.

Ortega is not involved with the original @DevinCow Twitter account. He did try to create a @DevinCow handle on Truth Social but said he found that the username “is already unavailable or blocked.”

Anti-vaxxer “censored” but not banned

Right-wing podcaster Stew Peters complained on Telegram that he is “ALREADY being censored on Truth Social.” As Right Wing Watch put it, “Radical anti-vax right-wing broadcaster Stew Peters complains that he’s ‘being censored on Truth Social’ simply for demanding that those responsible for the COVID-19 vaccine ‘be put on trial and executed.'” Peters’ podcast was previously removed by Spotify for violating its policy against COVID misinformation.

But unlike @DevinNunesCow, Peters wasn’t actually banned from Truth Social. “Peters revealed that a post where he called for the execution of government officials had been obscured by the notice. Yet simply clicking ‘Show Content’ on the notice would allow any user to see Peters’ remarks,” the Daily Dot noted.

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