Former US President Donald Trump has announced plans to launch a new social media network, called TRUTH Social.
He said the platform would “stand up to the tyranny of big tech”, accusing them of silencing opposing voices in the US.
Social media played a pivotal role in Mr Trump’s bid for the White House and was his favourite means of communication as president.
But Mr Trump was banned from Twitter and suspended from Facebook after his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Social media firms were under pressure throughout Mr Trump’s presidency to ban him, with his posts criticised as insulting, inflammatory or peddling outright falsehoods.
Last year Twitter and Facebook began deleting some of his posts or labelling them as misleading, such as one in which he said Covid was “less lethal” than the flu.
They took the decision to ban or suspend Mr Trump after the January riots, which followed a speech in which he made baseless claims of electoral fraud.
Responding to the riots, Mr Trump called those at the Capitol “patriots” and showed no sign of accepting the result of the election, prompting Twitter and Facebook to rule that it was too risky to allow him to continue to use their sites.
‘Your favourite president has been silenced’
Since then he and his advisers have hinted that they were planning to create a rival social media site. Earlier this year, he launched From the Desk of Donald J Trump, which was often referred to as a blog.
The website was permanently shut down less than a month after it launched after attracting only a fraction of the audience he would have expected through established sites.
His senior aide Jason Miller said it was “just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on”.
An early version of his latest venture, TRUTH Social, will be open to invited guests next month, and will have a “nationwide rollout” within the first three months of 2022, according to a statement by Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG).
“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favourite American President has been silenced,” wrote Mr Trump.
“Everyone asks me why doesn’t someone stand up to Big Tech? Well, we will be soon!” he added.
Donald Trump’s team is making a big deal of this. Yet there’s no indication that the new company has a working platform yet. The new site is just a registration page.
He wants to create a platform that rivals Twitter or Facebook, but that simply won’t happen.
By its very nature the platform is overtly politicised. It is not going to be a talking shop of ideas like Twitter, or a place the whole family is on like Facebook.
Donald Trump clearly wants his megaphone back. He thinks this might be his ticket. But if he’s really going to be heard, he needs the Big Tech platforms to let him back on – and that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
TMTG, which he chairs, also intends to launch a subscription video-on-demand service.
TMTG said its video-on-demand service would “feature ‘non-woke’ entertainment programming, news, podcasts, and more”.
Mr Trump’s announcement comes months after his former aide Jason Miller launched another social media company called GETTR.
His criticism, that social media silences conservative voices, is shared by many Republicans, although Facebook data shows that figures such as Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, as well as outlets like Fox News and The Daily Caller, consistently appear among the site’s top performing posts.
Mr Trump retains a strong hold over the the Republican party. He has hinted that he will run again in 2024 but has made no formal announcement. He has also kept his profile up with public rallies.