In the months ahead of what’s likely to be a brutal Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump and his 2024 campaign are laying the groundwork for his big, bombastic return to major social media platforms. Such a return, though, would inevitably involve Trump screwing over one of his own companies — and he’s been telling confidants that he is prepared to do just that.
When Trump first founded Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), he agreed to a “social media exclusivity term” that required him to “first channel any and all social media communications” to his Truth Social account for six hours before posting the content to other platforms, according to SEC filings.
Since late last year, former President Trump has informed several people close to him that he doesn’t want to re-up the exclusivity agreement with his social media company, Truth Social, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. “There’s not going to be a need for that,” is how one of the sources recalls Trump describing his soon-to-expire contractual obligation.
The 18-month term of that requirement is up in June — right as the Republican primary is expected to begin heating up. After that, Trump’s exclusivity term would automatically renew for six month periods “unless notice is given.” In the event his exclusivity term expires, Trump would still be “required to post contemporaneously to Truth Social.”
“He said there’s an expiration date and that he didn’t want to make commitments,” the other source says.
Asked whether Trump planned to continue to make Truth Social his exclusive social media home, a company representative directed Rolling Stone to a recent appearance by TMTG CEO Devin Nunes on Newsmax where the former California congressman said Trump “has no interest in going back to Twitter.”
Others, of course, disagree. One person close to Trump who has spoken to the ex-president recently about Twitter tells Rolling Stone on Sunday: “There is no way [Nunes’ statement] is true.”
Regardless of what happens with his exclusivity term, Trump’s agreement with the company grants him greater freedom in campaigning for his upcoming 2024 run. His agreement exempts posts as long as the content “specifically relates to political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the vote efforts,” according to the SEC filings.
The recent accounts of Trump’s growing restlessness with his own platform come at a time when the former president — once exiled from mainstream social media for instigating a deadly insurrection — could return to some of those platforms. Twitter, now owned by right-wing billionaire Elon Musk, reinstated Trump’s account in November, but Trump demurred and said he’d stay with Truth Social. The Trump campaign has also pressed Facebook to end the indefinite suspension of his account put in place after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
A Meta spokesperson referred Rolling Stone to its statement, made before the Trump campaign’s demand for reinstatement, which said that the company would make a decision “in the coming weeks in line with the process we laid out.” The statement, made in early January, suggests that a decision about the account could be announced relatively soon.
Meta’s independent Oversight Board upheld the company’s decision to restrict his account in a May 2021 ruling but called the undefined period of suspension it gave Trump “arbitrary”— the company’s rules call for time-bound or permanent suspension for severe violations — and asked officials to reassess it.
If Meta officials reinstate his account, Trump will face a moderation process with new and potentially stricter reviewers involved than the environment he faced during his presidency.
Previously, users could only appeal the company’s decisions to remove content, but the board’s jurisdiction expanded in April 2021 to allow third parties to appeal content “which they think should be removed from Facebook or Instagram.” If Trump returns to Facebook, his posts could face a second layer of scrutiny from the independent Oversight Board, which may feel freer to enforce the company’s rules against the Republican presidential favorite.
And as NBC News reported on Wednesday, Trump has begun to ask associates for their thoughts about a return to Twitter and suggestions for a first tweet. People with knowledge of the matter tell Rolling Stone that some of these ideas that Trump has personally discussed include a tweet that features a slickly made, WWE-style campaign video about the ex-president returning to the platform, and then to the White House. One of these sources says Trump has privately rattled off possible topics in recent weeks for his initial barrage of new tweets, such as ones focused on insulting President Joe Biden and others comparing himself to Superman.
Other ideas, however, have included picking at the scabs of the Jan. 6 attack. According to one source familiar with the matter, Trump and some of his close allies have already brainstormed about him tweeting that, even though Big Tech tried to “silence” him over his lies about a “rigged election,” he was now back to make “the Left” miserable.
Read More:Trump Looks to Abandon Truth Social, His Own Social Media Platform – Rolling Stone