Exclusive: Trump app opens to hundreds of testers ahead of planned launch

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. November 4, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

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Feb 17 (Reuters) – Details of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s new social media app are spreading as around 500 beta testers started using an early version of ‘Truth Social’, two sources said at Reuters.

Truth Social’s test comes a year after Trump was banned from Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) YouTube. His new media and technology company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), has pledged to deliver an “engaging, censorship-free experience” on the app, which Chief Executive Devin Nunes said will launch in here at the end of March. Read more

TMTG remains shrouded in secrecy and is viewed with skepticism by some in tech and media circles. It’s unclear whether the app’s free speech goal can co-exist with Apple’s (AAPL.O) and Google’s App Store policies. TMTG was not immediately available for comment.

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Liz Willis, correspondent and vice president of operations at Right Side Broadcasting Network, told Reuters she received an email on Tuesday that “T Media Tech LLC has invited you to test Truth Social.”

Willis was able to download the app to his iPhone through the TestFlight beta testing site, the Apple-owned product that developers use before launching their apps on the App Store. Users have been posting to this version of Truth Social for 24 hours, Willis said Wednesday morning.

Wayne Dupree, founder of WayneDupree.com and host of a conservative podcast, is also among the app’s beta testers.

“I can see my participation in Truth Social overtaking Twitter because it looks like I’m not being deleted like I’ve been on Twitter, since 2016,” said Dupree, who added that there is currently no no edit button.

“I want to share my single dad’s chronicles. I want my followers to see that I’m more than just politics and I think Truth Social is going to let my audience see me, unlike Twitter.”

Twitter has repeatedly denied that its platform is politically biased.

As of Wednesday evening, Trump’s Truth Social account had 317 followers, according to a screenshot seen by Reuters. Trump had 88 million followers before Twitter banned him.

Truth Social allows users to post and share a “truth” the same way they would a tweet. There are no ads, according to Willis and a second source familiar with TMTG.

Users choose who they follow and the feed is a mix of individual posts and an RSS-like news feed. They will be alerted if someone mentions them or starts following them.

According to a screenshot, the app states that “a new direct messaging experience is coming soon. Please stay tuned.”

Several conservative media figures also have accounts, according to a screenshot reviewed by Reuters. Reuters could not immediately reach those people for comment.

Trump’s account shows a ‘truth’ he posted three days ago, verified on @realDonaldTrump’s account with a red checkmark and the message: ‘Get Ready! Your favorite president will see you soon!

Donald Trump Jr on Twitter highlighted his father’s first post on Truth Social.

TMTG released an updated version, “Truth Social 0.9”, on Wednesday morning. He’s testing bug fixes for “re-truths,” what he calls a retweet, “aspect ratios and image compression, improved error handling, and account creation.”

On Wednesday morning, Nunes, who joined the app on February 10, posted, “Hello truth testers. Please capture any bugs when the screenshot preview appears. »

If a tester sees something they don’t like, they can capture it and report it to the developers.

A message reads: “Beta feedback and device information is collected and shared with the developer and will be linked to your email address.”

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Reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Additional reporting by Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Kenneth Li and Lisa Shumaker

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