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In 2022, Donald Trump launched his social network — Truth Social. The idea has been discussed before, as Trump has called social media biased against him throughout his presidency. Especially after the events of January 6, 2021, when Meta banned him indefinitely for "inciting violent insurrection against a democratically elected government". He was also blocked on Twitter. Given that he managed to win the presidential election in 2016 thanks to social networks in particular, he and his team believed that creating their own similar platform would help mobilize Trump supporters and draw extra attention to him.

Since its launch in 2024, platform losses have been valued at approximately $31.5 million. Every month, the number of active users reaches about 600,000 (as of July 2023). Even the Chinese and Russian investments couldn't make the social network more popular. In particular, when the social network was on the verge of bankruptcy, it was saved by the funding of individuals and institutions associated with Rosmortechflot (Росмортехфлот). There is an assumption that after the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, all previously active users of Trump's network moved there. However, even though the capabilities of Trump's platform are pretty limited, it is still a platform for the dissemination of pro-Russian statements in Western countries that can influence the views of conservative Americans. Herein, DM discusses the functionality of Truth Social and its features, as well as the main anti-Ukrainian theses that spread during the election campaign in the United States.

Truth Social sign-up process

It would seem that when one creates a social network, it is made as accessible as possible all over the world. However, whether due to technical limitations or ideological beliefs, Truth Social is still only available in some countries of the world after its almost third year of existence. Among the official list of countries where the social network operates are the USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Turkey, and Australia. For this research, we registered a profile on this social network. Although it is not available in Polish Google Play, it can be downloaded in APK format or from the App Store.

The network operates without a VPN, but the registration process is complicated. To register a profile, you need to use an email address. However, it does not accept all domains. In particular, it was not possible to use ukr.net email addresses or temporary addresses such as ProtonMail. After entering the Gmail address, one receives a verification code. After that, the social network will ask you to enter your mobile phone number. It does not register users from Ukrainian numbers. Poland is not on the list of countries where the network works, but it accepted the Polish number and, using a Polish VPN, asked to enter the verification code from the SMS message.

For the best effect of testing capabilities and personal data protection, we created a stereotypical profile of a Trump supporter in Truth Social (according to exit polls). We named the profile Chris Clark, aged 61, located in Dallas, Texas. We created the "appearance" of our character thanks to the FaceApp application. We chose the design and description of his profile based on trends among Donald Trump's supporters on the network and other social networks.

Truth Social’s features

The app’s interface — the user profile, feed of updates, and posts on the social network screens — resembles X (Twitter). However, there are several differences. Posts here are called "truth." The application also has open thematic groups that can be joined. Many of them associate themselves with the QAnon movement, a political movement and system of conspiracy theories that emerged in 2017.

A group called "Where We Go One We Go All" with 6,500 subscribers. Description: "Memes, News, Trump, Everything Q"

One can see Christian-affiliated profiles among the accounts active on Truth Social. They publish primarily quotes from the Bible or try to adapt them to their political views.

Another difference in this social network is that personal correspondence is deleted automatically, and users can choose after what period - 14, 30, 60, and 90 days.

Most users' posts we saw in the feed are supporters of Donald Trump. They distribute various formats of content in support of him, repost his posts, and create what they call memes with him. As reported by some users who privately messaged Chris Clark, the social network is used now mainly for quick dating for sex (which we have seen personally) or involvement in trading. The most popular recent posts get at most half a thousand likes, even if they are published by a profile with several million followers. There is also a lot of spam in this social network - moderation on it is pretty weak, so you can see many ads and posts where the hashtags correspond to current topics, but the post's actual content does not. However, among all this, there is a lot of anti-Ukrainian rhetoric consonant with the narratives of Russian propaganda.

Russian propaganda in Truth Social

Users of the social network spread a number of both veiled and openly anti-Ukrainian messages, consonant with Russian propaganda. One of them is related to criticism of the current president, Joe Biden: He supports Ukraine, but Trump makes statements like "ending the war in 24 hours", which would mean the surrender of Ukraine. In particular, users write that Biden is allegedly intentionally "draining" America and playing along with "influential" global players such as China and billionaire George Soros. It adapts the conspiracy theory about the "new world order" to a specific situation. Propagandists resort to this to discredit Biden and strengthen the image of Trump as a fighter against the "secret global government". One of the groups mentioned above republished a post by Donald Trump's associate and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani: “Tell me something, America. How is it possible that Joe Biden just purchased a $47 million D.C. Mansion situated half-mile from George Soros townhouse and only a quarter-mile from the Chinese embassy? We need answers, and we need them very Quickly."

Also, users of the social network accuse Biden of supporting the "invasion" of the US territory by illegal migrants. Since the "Trumpists" have combined the issue of financial assistance to Ukraine and strengthening control over the border with Mexico, criticism of Biden for his position on migration policy is automatically linked to criticism of support for Ukraine.

"Treason. You don't steal an election, give money & weapons to the Taliban, destroy your military, destroy the food supply, destroy energy & gas, disassemble your border and encourage an invasion of your own country and it NOT be a TREASONOUS act against your own country & people. Lock Him Up."

One of the users in the comments to one of the posts called for a government shutdown, e.g., the cessation of funding of the government and its programs, projects, and initiatives due to this issue:

"Keep rejecting it. No more money. No more BS. Close down gov till they agree to close borded. No pay to Senate or House till then."

Sometimes, users of the social network spread materials from other platforms. One account shared a YouTube video titled "Based Congresswoman Plans to Send Senators to Fight in Ukraine if they vote for Ukraine Aid."

One post epitomizes this mindset among conservative audiences in the United States.

"No matter the situation, American politicans’ solutions is “fund Ukraine”. War in the Middle East? Let’s package funding to Ukraine. Border crisis? Ukraine more important. Russian spac nukes? Solution is to fund Ukraine. Navalny dies? Fund Ukraine. Pure desperation."

Social network users also mock and criticize American parliamentarians, including Republicans, who publicly express their support for Ukraine. In particular, Lindsay Graham has a pro-Ukrainian position. Due to this, memes and derogatory posts about him can be found on Truth Social. For example, politicians only want to fight in foreign countries instead of finding a peaceful solution and focusing on internal problems.

"Vote YES to send Lindsey Graham to the frontlines of all wars he wants."

One of the comments on a post about a possible amendment to the US law that would make the denial of aid to Ukraine a basis for impeachment included a list of senators who voted for the support bill for Ukraine, with discontent towards them, e.g., they do not represent the opinion of the majority of Americans with this decision.

"80% of Americans reject spending another penny in Ukraine. Why do these senators refuse to represent their citizens? Fire them all"

This social network has accounts whose primary purpose is to publish media materials of a conservative and propagandistic nature, including Russian ones, for example, links to articles or interviews of Russian officials and military commanders for Russia Today or TASS.

One of the users quotes a publication from the Russian propaganda newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda

Other Truth Social users also post links to Russian propaganda media, and we found links to American or European media in the feed. Fascination with Russia extends to comments on what, according to users of the social network, Ukraine should do:

"Screw Ukraine, they should have accepted Putin's peace deal 18 months ago"

"The only supply’s I would agree sending Ukraine is a few thousand white flags"

"Ukraine lost the war the day it started"

When viewing profiles that share similar statements or materials, one can see certain similarities. First, they all have descriptions and visual identities associated with Donald Trump. The number of followers on the profiles of the most prominent critics of Ukraine on this social network ranges from 2,650 to 1,220,000. However, many show signs of spam accounts, i.e., they either share giveaways and promotional posts on their profile or have a strange nickname. 

One of the profiles appeared in the comments under one of the posts: "Stop funding Ukraine! The money is not helping the citizens of Ukraine! It is going into the elites the pocket’s!!!"

The Amica Imperatoris profile, with 3,240 subscribers, attracts particular attention in this context. It is an authentic collection of Russian propaganda and its basis in this social network. The description states: "I am a dual citizen & double patriot US & Russia, and a fighter against globalism. #GodWins & activist for #Trump". In particular, it publishes five-line anti-Ukrainian poems, united under the hashtag #UkraineLimericks. As an example, DM chooses one of them:

A shithole called "the Ukraine "

Was circling ‘round the drain.

Real close to its ruin got renamed to Ukruin

and "Ukruin" shall it henceforth remain.

The pinned post on this profile is a popular video fake with the caption: "Population of Kherson greeting UkroNazis with flowers and Nazi salutes??? No, relax! It’s the Ukrainians in Kiev greeting German Nazi troops in Sept 1941... No kidding. The Nazis of 2022 is not Ukrainians’ first Nazi rodeo. #UkraineWar #UkraineNazis #Ukraine...». It also added pig, bacon, and Ukrainian flag emojis to it.

This profile also assists in translating Russian fakes when asked to do so in the comments. Amica Imperatoris also spreads conspiracy theories and hate speech.

"The usual. Soros interfering in elections from Hungary to Brazil..."

In this case, the user appeals to the theory of the "new world order" and feeds the thesis that the elections do not decide anything and are falsified.

This profile shares Russian fakes on various topics — about Zelenskyy, farmers' protests in Poland, and even the Russian oppositionist Navalny. All the users' publications are united by only one thing — hatred of Ukraine.

This profile also provides links to Russian Telegram channels. However, with such many followers (as for this social network), her posts get relatively few likes. It may indicate that the number of followers may be inflated, meaning some are unreal.

A similar account under the nickname DC_Draino, with 523,000 followers, also promotes Russian fakes. For example, about the alleged "death" of the pro-Russian blogger Gonzalo Lira, tortured in a Ukrainian prison, e.g., why the American government is talking about the death of Navalny and is silent about such a high-profile case of its citizen.

The dangers of this network

Even in the Ukrainian media, Donald Trump's team and his supporters are trying to distance themselves from Russian propaganda and its rhetoric. According to them, it is just a coincidence, and Trump's policy may actually be more pro-Ukrainian than it seems at first glance. However, the analysis of messages distributed by Truth Social users proves that the manipulative messages of Donald Trump's supporters, as well as the rhetoric of the politician himself, often coincide with the theses of Russian propaganda, and if he wins the presidential elections, anti-Ukrainian sentiments in American society and politics may increase. It may harm bilateral relations between Ukraine and the United States.

In addition, given that the social network spreads malicious links, fraud schemes, and Russian propaganda in the English-speaking information space, the platform could threaten the national security of Ukraine, the United States, and other countries in which it operates. Imperfect rules for moderating content and fueling hate speech towards specific political camps or entire nations create a dangerous information environment that, even with a relatively limited format, can act as a "Petri dish". The social network can not only be a testing ground for Russian propaganda but also lead to the direct destabilization of American democratic institutions, as well as create vulnerabilities in the information space of the United States. Since security in today's world has long gone beyond the physical dimension, by funding and supporting Truth Social and, therefore, Trump (the company that runs the social network is registered in his name), Russia is creating its own vacuum that it can use if necessary.

Lack of moderation is also an issue of other bigger social networks. However, if the latter at least make an effort in this direction, then the lack of moderation on Truth Social crosses all boundaries. In such cases, it is better to take preventive measures because hate speech in the virtual world of social networks can lead to real crimes in real life. For example, representatives of Trump's electorate and supporters of conspiracy theories resorted to threats and attempted physical violence against those involved in such theories as "pizzagate" and "crisis actor". Since Truth Social supports such rhetoric, and there are cases where it has led to actual consequences, the measures against it are justified. The Ukrainian side should show interest in this, given the openly anti-Ukrainian nature of the social network, which intensifies hatred towards one nation and strengthens the aggressor state.

Main page image collage credits: Natalia Lobach

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