Donald Trump in talks to launch social media platform

The Parler app was removed by Google and Apple. Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images
A key adviser to Donald Trump has dropped a bombshell, saying there is a “very good chance” he will embark on a major new venture.

Former US president Donald Trump is actively holding meetings about launching his own social media company to rival Twitter, a key adviser says.

“There’ve been conversations and meetings already to this point, I think there’s a very good chance (former) president Trump could set up his own social media platform in which case regardless of what the platform is it’s going to be the biggest once he joins it,” Jason Miller said in an interview with The Australian and Sky News.

Mr Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riots, which also resulted in his unprecedented second impeachment trial and acquittal in the Senate earlier this month.

Conservatives have long accused Twitter and other big tech platforms including Facebook and YouTube of bias and politically motivated censorship.

Alternative social media platforms and messaging apps such as Parler, Gab and Telegram, which were already popular with the far-right, have seen an influx of new users in the aftermath of Mr Trump’s deplatforming.

Mr Trump himself, however, is yet to return to social media in any form.

Parler was itself taken offline in early January after Amazon Web Services booted the site from its servers, and Apple and Google removed the app from their stores, citing the platform’s alleged failure to police violent content.

Watchdog group Media Matters, however, said that while Parler played a role in the January 6 violence, it paled in comparison to the likes of Facebook – which has long been criticised for failing to crack down on extremist content.

“Apple and Google were being extraordinarily myopic and, frankly, hypocritical in singling out Parler,” Media Matters president Angelo Carusone told Salon. “Not because I want to defend Parler, but the math is the math. Facebook was worse.”

Parler sued Amazon for antitrust violations, but a Washington judge last month panned the complaint as “(failing) to allege basic facts” and denied a request for a preliminary injunction that would have forced Amazon to temporarily reinstate Parler’s account.

It relaunched last week after more than a month off the internet, during which time the company ousted chief executive John Matze and replaced him with Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler as interim CEO.

In interviews slamming the company following his ouster, Mr Matze revealed that Parler had been aggressively courting Mr Trump last year to make the site his primary social media home, even going as far as to offer his real estate company a 40 per cent stake in the business, according to BuzzFeed.

The Parler app was removed by Google and Apple. Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The talks fell through, with Mr Matze telling Axios he “didn’t like the idea of working with Trump, because he might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted” and feared that if “we didn’t sign the deal, he might have been vengeful and told his followers to leave Parler”.

Mr Trump never created a Parler account but in court filings – prior to being booted – Mr Matze claimed the former president had considered joining under the pseudonym “Person X”, and that “a desire to deny president Trump a platform on any large social media service” was part of the reason behind Amazon’s decision.

Parler came back online last week “built on sustainable, independent technology and not reliant on so-called ‘big tech’ for its operations”, Mr Meckler said in a statement, vowing the platform would be “stronger than ever”.

Mr Trump’s backing of a new platform could put him in an awkward situation with one of his staunchest supporters, podcast host and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who has a large financial stake in Parler.

Likewise, Gab – which is home to the likes of Australian chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans – has long attempted to entice Mr Trump to join. Earlier this month, there were inaccurate reports that Mr Trump had returned to social media with a Gab account.

But the account was actually created five years ago by Gab CEO Andrew Torba to mirror Mr Trump’s Twitter profile, intended as a placeholder for if and when he ever decided to join the platform.

In a statement posted on the site, Mr Torba then alleged that Mr Trump would have joined if not for his son-in-law and former White House adviser Jared Kushner. “The only reason he’s not using it right now to contact his base is because dopey advisers like Jared Kushner, who lost him the election, are blocking him from using it,” Mr Torba wrote.

“We will go on the record stating that we know 100 per cent for a fact that Jared Kushner is actively trying to keep Trump off Gab and has been for weeks. Because Gab is the only safe place left for conservatives that means Kushner is trying to keep Trump off the internet. Why?”

Other media outlets including CNN and Bloomberg had similarly reported in January that Mr Kushner, as well as deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, had blocked efforts by other advisers to get Mr Trump to join “fringe social media platforms”.

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