NPR is getting in front of it by assuring us it’s going to be a tough sell, but former President Donald Trump is responding to social media companies like Twitter and Facebook, that suspended him from their platforms in early January following the chaos at the Capitol, by teasing plans to create his own platform.
In a media advisory issued from his office on March 22, Trump indicated he would be a guest on former Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe’s new podcast, “The Truth with Lisa Boothe,” which turned out to be the place where Trump himself teased his Trump-branded social media idea.
“I’m doing things having to do with putting our own platform out there that you’ll be hearing about soon,” Trump said in an interview for Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe’s initial podcast “The Truth” released on Monday. “I’ll be telling you pretty soon.”
“This is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media. It’s going to completely redefine the game. And everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what President Trump does, but it will be his own platform,” Trump’s longtime adviser said.
As mentioned, NPR begs to differ, suggesting Wednesday that Trump may not have the audience to pull off his own platform.
Relevance is important in politics — and it can be fleeting…With tens of millions of followers, Trump was one of the most dominant people on social media before his erasure following his false election claims and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Since then, his influence has been severely curtailed, mostly limited to emailed statements and television interviews that haven’t dominated news cycles like his tweets used to.
“He has a problem right now in that he’s not on social media,” said Jennifer Grygiel, a professor at Syracuse University who studies social media and its influence. “He does not really have a lot of people paying attention to him right now, and this [teasing of a new platform] is a great way to get attention.”
Whether or not Trump decides to go through with his plan to compete within the increasingly biased social media market — and there are real logistical questions related to support and security that could complicate the process — it’s probably in the best interest of traditional media companies like NPR to avoid making the same mistakes they’ve made with Trump since he rode that elevator down in 2015: underestimate him, and his power to leverage a fan base, at your peril.