NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump’s social media app that he hopes will rival Twitter launched Monday as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech limits on speech a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
His Truth Social app was offered for download from the Apple App Store to a limited number of subscribers who had preordered, with others added to a waiting list to be given access over the next 10 days.
“Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waitlist,” read a message some of those trying to access the platform, adding, “We love you.”
Trump is hoping Truth Social will attract the millions who followed him on Twitter as he hints at a third presidential run, triggering a wave of other subscribers to justify the billions of dollars that investors have bet on the venture. Shares in a company that plans to buy Trump Media and Technology Group, the parent of Truth Social, have soared in recent months.
According to Apple’s rankings, Truth Social was the top free app in the U.S. on Monday morning, besting the “Talking Ben the Dog” children’s game, streaming service HBO Max, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
The partial launch Monday follows an experimental “beta” launch to test the platform last week.
The site encountered technical glitches shortly after launch, with reports that subscribers were shut out for hours. Others had trouble signing on.
Trump was banned from top social media platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot last year that critics accused him of inciting. The ban has raised difficult questions of free speech in a social media industry dominated by a few tech giants.
Republicans were quick to use the launch of Truth Social to raise money for their election efforts.
“After over A YEAR of muzzling by the Liberal Big Tech Tyrants: TRUMP. IS. BACK,” wrote GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a fundraising email appeal Monday.
Groups like the Republican National Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund also have been fundraising off the launch.
“Our main goal here is to give people their voice back,” Trump Media CEO and former GOP Congressman Devin Nunes said Sunday on Fox News. He added that the app offers “the opposite of some Silicon Valley tech oligarch freak telling people what they want to think and deciding who can or cannot be on the platform.”
Trump Media has been promised nearly $300 million from a publicly traded company that plans to merge with it and got pledges from dozens of private investors for an additional $1 billion to fund its operations, but it still needs approval from regulators for the deal before it can access the cash.