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So far, this year the biggest news on social media has been Twitter deciding to de-platform former President Donald Trump back in January due to the Capitol riots. And now the biggest news might be Donald Trump returning to social media by the start of the summer. On Fox News, Trump senior advisor Jason Miller previewed what he called “the hottest ticket in social media.” The creation of a new social platform by Trump will “completely redefine the game,” he says. So what might Trump and his team have in mind?
Option #1: A limited “one-to-many” social media platform
The core feature of any social media platform featuring the 45th president needs to be some way for Donald Trump to send out daily updates to his fans and followers. You know that, deep down, the one thing that is killing Trump the most about his Twitter ban is the fact that he can’t send out late-night tweets that people and TV pundits will be talking about in the morning.
The big question here is just how much ability fans and followers will have in the future to react to the former President’s updates. Haters, for example, are almost certainly waiting for the moment to “downvote” or “dislike” whatever they can, while critics are chomping at the bit to leave behind nasty and insulting comments. So any “one-to-many” social media platform needs to be flexible and creative enough to keep fans happy, while simultaneously making things tough for the haters and critics. A compromise here might just be a sort of “text alert” platform where you can sign up to receive “alerts” (i.e. tweets) from the former President.
Option #2: A “new and improved” Parker
Another possible option is the creation of a “new and improved” Parler for the pro-Trump crowd. Parler attracted a lot of big-name Trump backers and right-leaning conservatives, so this might be a relatively easy way to get a social media platform up and running very quickly. Theoretically, the technology already exists to make it possible, and there’s a critical mass of people who already use it. All it needs is the approval of Donald Trump.
Option #3: A “free speech” blend of mainstream and social media
Another option might be a social media platform that blends the worlds of traditional and social media. Trump has always been a huge fan of popular culture, ranging from tabloid magazines to big TV properties like “The Apprentice.” And he’s always treated Fox News as a sort of alternative press platform that the White House could leverage to get out its political messaging. At the same time, there have always been rumors of Trump starting a new TV network (along the lines of Newsmax or OANN) that would be even more right-leaning than Fox News. So imagine a TV property pumping out pro-Trump news around the clock, complemented by a social media platform that generates conversations around those updates.
Option #4: A “membership only” message board for Trump backers
There are a lot of back channels out there for connecting with fans and supporters, and one of the best known is 4chan. “The Chans” are a deep, dark part of the Web, but it’s also where many memes and ideas first spring to life. When the whole Q phenomenon first started to gain buzz in 2017, it was a message board on 4Chan where it all began. A secretive insider known only as Q began to leave behind cryptic messages on the boards. From there, a group of “anons” went to work gathering news and intel to feed the Q movement.
After highly-publicized attempts at shutting down the Q message boards on 4chan, the movement shifted over to 8chan and then to 8kun. Who knows? An anonymous message board concept might become a sort of template for keeping the Trump social media platform one step ahead of censors and critics. The new social media platform might require cryptographic keys in order to post content on the message boards, and a lot of anonymity from the users. Presumably, it would traffic primarily in pro-Trump memes, while having a lot of different forums on specific topics for Trump fans.
Option #5: Something completely new and innovative
This is perhaps the least likely option, given the quick timeline for creating it (just two-three months). Trump loved the Twitter model of blasting out short, pithy tweets, and it’s hard to see him calling for something radically new. But wouldn’t it be fun if Trump confounds us yet again with something new and unusual, along the lines of a Clubhouse for Trump supporters? Imagine how much fun it would be to have pro-Trump celebrities from the worlds of arts, entertainment and sports joining The Donald regularly to talk on whatever he feels like talking about. One week, it might be a riff on an upcoming golf event, the next week, it might be the launch of a new political campaign for a big-name Trump ally daring to take on The Swamp. Of course, there would be a big freedom-of-speech angle here, with people free to say whatever they really think.
There are probably only a handful of people – including Donald Trump, Elon Musk and Bill Gates – who have the power, influence and name recognition to pull off something this big. Who knows? Maybe this will be another ill-fated Trump project, destined to go bankrupt like a casino in Atlantic City? But you never know – there were so many doubters and critics when Trump first announced plans to run for the presidency before the 2016 election, and look at where we are today. So stay tuned for what comes next. Just wait to see what a pro-Trump social media platform might do in 2021 to change the game forever.