Former President Donald Trump’s new media company is already dealing with its first scandals, and it hasn’t even officially launched yet.
Nine months after he was pulled from social media for his role in instigating the Capitol rebellion on January 6, Trump said on Wednesday he was launching a new media company with his own social media platform, called Truth Social. which will come under the umbrella of Trump’s newly minted. Company, Trump Media & Technology Group.
“We live in a world where the Taliban have a huge Twitter presence, yet your favorite US president has been silenced,” he said in a statement. “this is unacceptable.”
But soon after the announcement, hackers from the Anonymous group said they found a way back to the beta version of Truth Social and started creating accounts.
Aubrey Cottle, who goes by Kirtner and is a founding member of Anonymous, said he came across the app after searching a listing on Apple’s App Store for the mobile version.
“It had some clues that allowed us to track down this beta version, which was live, active, and we had some fun,” Cottle said.
Cottle shared a sign-up link on his Twitter page on Wednesday night, which he said led to an influx of people. He said members created parody accounts for figures such as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Ron Watkins, Steve Bannon and Trump himself.
“It took them about two hours to realize that something was happening,” Cottle said. “They initially reacted by banning all these parody accounts, and shortly after they took everything offline.”
Cottle said of his reading behind the hack, Anonymous is focusing on its push against racism, neo-Nazism and hate speech.
“But other than that, it was just a whole bunch of fun and chaos,” he said. “The opportunity presented itself,” Cottle said.
Cottle did not find the security of the platform to be a challenge, saying that vulnerabilities can be detected only by looking at the source code.
“It’s just using standard open-source software called Mastodon,” Cottle said. Mastodon is a self-hosted social networking service. “I’d say it’s as safe as any other mastodon example.”
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 9, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Trump’s representatives have yet to respond to a request for comment and have not publicly confirmed the reported hack.
In the meantime, Mastodon said it is considering its legal options regarding Truth Social. Founder Eugen Rochko told Granthshala television stations that Trump’s platform appears to be making surface-level changes – such as replacing the Mastodon logo with the Truth Social logo or renaming “posts” as “links”. But he added that Truth Social still uses mastodons “under the hood.”
Rochko said, “Whether or not the code has been modified plays no role in the application of the AGPLv3 license, but the deciding factor is whether Truth Social Mastodon publishes its own copy of the source code and makes the modifications required by the license.” “
TRUTH Social is planning a soft launch in November before launching nationwide next year.
“Time will tell whether it becomes the embarrassment over and over again, until it’s launched properly,” Cottle said.
TMTG has not reduced its targets. In addition to the Truth Social app, which is expected to be soft-launched next month with a nationwide rollout early next month, the company says it plans a video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that includes entertainment programming, News and podcasts will be included.
a slide in TMTG presentation on your website A graphic of TMTG’s potential competitors is included, ranging from Facebook and Twitter to Netflix and Disney+ to CNN. The same slide shows that TMTG will also become a force in cloud computing and payments in the long term and suggests it will go head to head with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Stripe.
TMTG also takes some taunts at Trump’s previous favorite social network. The slides that accompany the Truth Social pre-borders listing in Apple’s App Store show a social network very similar to Twitter, right down to short messages and user handles before “@” signs.
The same graphics also includes a user named Jacques Beard who flashes an image when an employee pushes back an order to remove a user and his post, calling it “a bit of an overreach”. The Jacques Beard account uses the handle @jack, which is the original Jack Dorsey handle on Twitter; Dorsey’s long, curly beard also attracted attention during his congressional performance on Zoom.
Truth Social terms of Service, in the meantime, prevent users from harassing any employees of the Site and from “statements that, in our opinion, defame, stigmatize, or otherwise harm us and/or the Site.” It was not immediately clear who “we” referred to in that statement.
In a release, the new venture announced that it was created through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., and said it intended to become a publicly listed company.
DWA, based in Miami, is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC. Such publicly traded companies are designed to list the shares of a private company more quickly than a traditional initial public offering. In practice, this means that SPAC acquires a private firm and then changes its name and other details to the name of the acquired firm.
SPACs pay for their acquisitions with cash provided by investors who bought into SPAC’s initial public offering. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, DWA’s September 8 IPO raised $287.5 million.
DWA said it has raised approximately $293 million in cash, which it will use to scale up TMTG’s ventures. According to an SEC filing, the company’s largest shareholders are a number of institutional investors, including Lighthouse Investment Partners, DE Shaw & Company, and Radcliffe Capital Management. DWA said more details about the deal would be disclosed in an upcoming filing.
This story was reported from Atlanta. The Associated Press contributed.