Sometimes when you get what you say you want, it turns out to not be what you wanted at all.
That’s the reality now facing Donald Trump following the news Monday that billionaire businessman – and free speech absolutist – Elon Musk is buying Twitter.
Trump, you’ll remember, was banned from the social media site after the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol. He, and the Republican base, insisted that he and his fellow conservatives were being silenced by Big Tech.
Trump, ever the opportunist, announced in the fall of last year that he was starting Truth Social, a rival social media company that would be a free speech haven – unlike Twitter.
Except, well, Truth Social has been sort of irrelevant since it launched in February. Trump himself, the man around whom the entire operation was built, has so far sent one tweet Truth. And the special purpose acquisition company tied to Truth Social has lost 44% of its value since Musk first disclosed his stake in Twitter.
As I’ve written before, it never really made sense – logically or from a business perspective – to launch an alternative to Twitter.
For one, Twitter already exists, and it has massive reach in the political and media spaces that Trump cares about. Plus, there are other conservative social media apps – Gettr, for one – that aren’t exactly thriving.
Trump insisted to Fox on Monday that nothing had changed.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” Trump said. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH.”
But with Musk now in charge, the likelihood of Trump getting his Twitter account back just went WAY up. And if he is ultimately reinstated, he would get back the 88 million followers he had on Twitter – and the instant feedback that he grew so addicted to over the last few years.
(Trump has suggested he would not have been elected president without Twitter. “When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it,” he said in 2017.)
If you believe that Trump would somehow be able to resist the lure of Twitter if Musk allowed his account to be reinstated, then you haven’t been paying attention for the last seven years.
And the second Trump goes back to Twitter, Truth Social is dead.
The Point: Trump’s financial interest in Truth Social could help keep him away from Twitter – for now. But if his Twitter account is un-suspended, how long could that possibly last?