Over the weekend, it appeared that former President Donald Trump had finally picked a new social network to use after being kicked off Facebook and Twitter, when mainstream media sites reported that he had posted an update on the far-right network Gab.
But like much of the content posted on Gab, the story was just not true.
Anyone who has spent any time on Gab in recent years would have immediately known that Trump already has an account on the platform — it just wasn’t operated by the former president.
Gab’s CEO Andrew Torba set up the account five years ago, when the platform was just starting out. It was designed to be a placeholder for when Trump eventually decided to join, and in the meantime it acted as a mirror of Trump’s Twitter account, automatically reposting Trump’s tweets and archiving them.
Since Trump’s Twitter account was banned last month, it has been silent, but that changed on Friday when the account suddenly, without warning posted an update.
The post showed a letter from Trump’s lawyers to Rep. Jamie Raskin, calling his attempt to have Trump testify at his own impeachment trial this week “a public relations stunt.”
There was no indication about who had posted the update, and that led many people on Gab — including many of the QAnon influencers who have made the platform their new home in recent weeks — to claim that Trump had finally taken control of his account.
And over the weekend, multiple mainstream media outlets decided to print that speculation as fact, claiming that Trump had suddenly taken charge of the account and was now posting updates between rounds of golf in Florida.
In a message on the site on Sunday, Torba blasted the media for writing the stories without fact-checking them first, but then went on to reveal that he was the one who posted the update Friday, without any warning or explanation.
Torba also said the company had been “transparent” about the purpose of the account from the beginning, but again, this is not entirely accurate.
The @realDonaldTrump account on Gab, which has 1.4 million followers currently has a bio that reads as follows:
“Reserved for the 45th President of the United States of America?? This account is an uncensored Twitter archive and shares email statements sent by The Office of Donald J. Trump.“
But on Friday, when the letter was posted, the bio was not so clear:
“45th President of the United States of America. Uncensored posts from the @realDonaldTrump Feed.”
Of course, it’s unsurprising that Torba would want as many people as possible to think that Trump was using his platform.
Gab has grown massively in recent weeks, and on Sunday Torba announced that it had passed 4 million members, up from just over a million 10 months ago.
But for all its growth in recent weeks, Gab is still a minnow compared to the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Landing Trump as a user would immediately propel it onto another level, as the president would likely bring with him tens of millions of loyal supporters who are eager to hear the unfiltered thoughts of the former president.
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