Donald Trump's Social Media Platform Can't Replace What He Lost With Twitter, Facebook

A social media platform from former President Donald Trump could help him to connect with his followers, but fail to replicate the reach that Facebook and Twitter provided before his bans, experts have told Newsweek.

Trump spokesperson Jason Miller said in an interview Sunday that the former commander-in-chief will launch a site of his own in the coming months.

"I do think that we're going to see President Trump returning to social media, in probably about two or three months here—with his own platform," Miller said in an interview with Fox News' Media Buzz on Sunday.

"And this is something I think will be hottest ticket in social media. It's going to completely redefine the game and everyone is going to be waiting and watching to see what exactly President Trump does, but it will be his own platform."

While Trump's appeal would likely draw his followers, James Dennis, a senior lecturer in the political communication and journalism at the U.K.'s University of Portsmouth and author of Beyond Slacktivism: Political Participation on Social Media, told Newsweek such a platform would not replicate the benefits Facebook and Twitter gave him.

"Success for Trump depends on what his aims are. I can see his most dedicated supporters joining in favor of other political platforms, like Parler. This makes it easier for Trump to coordinate activists around campaigns," Dennis said.

"However, during his presidency, Trump benefited from Facebook and Twitter due to their wider popularity.

"These tools are embedded within our day-to-day lives; Trump benefitted from citizens being accidentally exposed to his messages during everyday use. Furthermore, his supporters could amplify and share his posts with their contacts. This form of social endorsement is significant, as citizens are more likely to engage with political content from a close contact."

Dennis also suggested the means by which other media covered Trump's postings from mainstream social sites was another aspect to the boost they gave him.

"Without this wider user base, I can't see a new platform benefiting Trump outside providing easy access to his most committed supporters," Dennis said.

Christian Fuchs, a professor at the U.K.'s University of Westminster and director of the Communication and Media Research Institute, also said the appeal of a Trump-owned site would pull in his base—but perhaps not pierce beyond that.

"It is unlikely a Trump platform would reach beyond his own filter bubble into the wider public," Fuchs said.

Fuchs also suggested that the approach of other media would determine the spread of influence from the site.

"Part of Trump's popularity were all these frontpage and primetime stories about his tweets," Fuchs said.

Andrew Chadwick, a professor of political communication at the U.K.'s Loughborough University and author of The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power, similarly told Newsweek the influence could be dependent on what wider spread messaging from the platform might have.

However, he said that as a means of shoring up support and getting his messages out, the platform could provide a benefit.

"He just doesn't have a choice, he's got to try something," Chadwick said, suggesting such a site could help Trump maintain his relevance having lost access to other social media platforms.

"He's not going to be commanding the attention he would have done if he'd been back on mainstream social media," Chadwick said, but said it could be a "move that's designed to shore up his base."

"It's a shrewd move, but it's not in my view likely to be a rip-roaring success. It's a stop-gap measure.

"Even if people do join Trump's platform, how much time they will spend on it could be less than Trump and his team would like."

Aside from the platform directly, Chadwick said there could be "indirect benefits," such as providing content to be shared elsewhere or influencing traditional outlets to cover his messages. By giving content for supporters to share elsewhere, Trump could therefore look to shape narratives in that way.

The prospect of a Trump-owned social site comes with the former president having received bans from several mainstream platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, following the events of January 6 and his posts surrounding them.

The sites took action following the violence at the Capitol, amid a backlash that also led to Trump's second impeachment.

Newsweek has contacted the Office of the Former President for comment.

president donald trump at roundtable
Then-President Donald Trump looks at his phone during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C. He is said to be planning a social media platform of his own. Alex Wong/Getty Images