Truth Social, the Twitter-like social platform for the ultra-right and Trump sycophants, has a QAnon problem (yes, I heard your collective gasp). More than that, conspiracist accounts have become a celebrated and regular part of the greater Truth Social community, thanks to major Republican officials and the titular former president himself “retruthing” the conspiracist nonsense (alright, you can stop gasping—the collective shock has truly run dry).
Researchers with media watchdog group NewsGuard reported Monday that there were 88 users with more than 10,000 followers regularly posting QAnon nonsense. More than half of those accounts were “verified,” similar to Twitter’s own verification system. More than that, former President Donald Trump actively platformed 30 of these accounts a total of 54 times in the few months since he came onto the platform earlier this year.
Just a reminder, QAnon supporters believe a cabal of globalist and democratic cannibals are going after children, participating in sex-trafficking, and worship satan, and that the only person there to stop it all is a former reality show host and aging relic of the 1980s era of excess.
But it’s not just Trump giving these accounts a leg up, according to researchers. Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes, a pariah in his own party, and former Trump administration official Kashyap Patel also regularly tag the anonymous, QAnon posting account @Q. That account has 214,000 followers. Patrick Orlando, the CEO of Digital Worlds Acquisition Corporation, a SPAC supporting Truth Social, likes to retruth posts related to the QAnon slogan “WWG1WGA,” or “Where we go one, we go all.”
In May, Trump retruthed a QAnon-related post that alluded to a “civil war” based on a post by Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, claiming the U.S. was failing, and it’s likely due to an “enemy… from within.” That same month he retruthed a graphic from verified QAnon account featuring the president on a throne with the “Q” symbol in the background. He retruthed a post quoting John F. Kennedy (a family QAnon supporters are quite obsessed with) that highlighted the words “...the storm coming.” It relates to a phrase often used by QAnon supporters, who still believe the former president will take on the “globalist cabal” in Washington, alluding to mass violence and purges.
Truth Social is owned by the holding company Trump Media & Technology Group, and though Trump used to be on the company’s board he left them high and dry in July, probably due to ongoing financial issues and an ongoing investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission (more on that later). TMTG did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Steven Brill, the co-CEO of NewsGuard, told The New York Times the problem with Trump being active in QAnon circles isn’t simply the fact an ex-president is retweeting bonkers conspiracies, but that he’s effectively the head of the social media platform also giving voice to these conspiracists.
Of course, Truth Social is effectively a response to Twitter and other social media platforms taking the banhammer to conspiracists and to Trump himself, especially after the Jan. 6 capitol insurrection last year. It’s not like Trump was hesitant to platform QAnon-ers prior to his Twitter ban.
Previous reports showed Truth Social had signed up to use technology that would detect content that violates the company’s terms of service. Apparently, this mostly focuses on keeping the site “family friendly,” not to censor “any political talk.”
But data shows Truth Social saw a boost in users after news circulated of the FBI’s raid on Trump’s home and Mar-a-Lago resort (you can read the FBI’s affidavit here), Truth Social went from a mere 20,000 downloads in the week of July 31 to Aug. 7 to over 100,000 in just a week around mid-August. The app went from 60th most popular in social media to 37.
Despite this climb in the rankings, the company running the conspiracy machine isn’t reportedly doing too well. Fox Business first reported that Truth Social is fighting one of its vendors, a company called RightForge, for around $1.6 million in obligated payments. According to three anonymous sources with knowledge of the dealings, Truth Social only made three payments before cutting off the money hose.