Less than a month after his debut as a blogger, the forty-fifth president’s sad little site simply disappeared yesterday. His crack social media team, consisting mostly of a thumb with a beard sharpied on it, insisted it was part of a broader strategy and that the former president was not, in fact, owned.
A day after the unceremonious shitcanning, the Washington Post reveals what anyone could have guessed: the blog sucked, got basically no traffic, and was the one anathema Trump could not abide by. It was a loser. From Drew Harwell and Josh Dawsey’s reporting:
Launched last month with a grand unveiling replete with an action-movie-style trailer that proclaimed, “In a time of silence and lies, a beacon of freedom arises,” the blog never secured more than a sliver of the spotlight Trump held before he was banned from every major social media site in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
A Post analysis of online data late last month found that the site was attracting fewer visitors than the pet-adoption service Petfinder and the recipe site Delish. The blog’s prospects hadn’t improved since, even though Trump had taken to writing on it more, a new analysis of online data shows.
And I love this little detail:
Trump dictated his messages to his aides, who would print them out so he could revise them with a Sharpie before manually posting them to the blog.
Maybe Trump should sell JPGs of his marked-up prototweets as NFTs. Don, Jr. could hawk them from his new Cameo account.
The whimper-not-a-bang ending of Trump’s blog demonstrates the deplatforming has certainly been effective, but as Judd Legum points out, the problem is actually the inverse. The incentives of social media are what help drive Trumpism:
Trump clearly expected that millions of people would flock to his website for this kind of wisdom. But the failure of Trump’s blog shows there is not an unquenchable thirst for Trump’s rants. Rather, Trump’s popularity was artificially boosted by Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms, which reward hatred, misinformation, and other divisive content. Outside of this artificial reality created by social networks, Trump’s diatribes have little organic appeal.
It underscores that the fundamental problems with Facebook and Twitter are baked into their algorithms and cannot be solved by banning Trump or any individual account.
I have no doubt Trump will be at it again, most likely via a takeover of one of the cesspools of bigotry that comprise alt-right social networks like Gab or Parler. A more pressing question is whether the mainstream social networks have learned anything at all from Trump and prepared for the next assault.