The images and testimony coming from the public hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol are shocking and horrifying for many people. But they’re also bringing a surge of traffic to Donald Trump’s Twitter-clone Truth Social.
The app saw a 185% spike in downloads on the day following the first televised hearing, compared to the 7-day average, according to Data.ai, formerly known as App Annie. That brings the total number of downloads, life to date, to 2.6 million.
To be clear, Truth Social didn’t exactly rocket to the top of the download charts. As of Thursday afternoon, it was 54th on the Apple app store’s free apps chart, with 33,000 downloads over the week of June 8 to 14, according to Data.ai. But with the start of the hearings, Trump’s supporters and detractors were seemingly suddenly curious about what he had to say.
Trump, if you weren’t among the people who downloaded the app, has been on a social media tear for the past week, voicing support for his candidates in the Tuesday primaries and (just as frequently) running down the Jan. 6 Committee (which he refers to as the “Unselect Committee”).
If anything, he is doubling down on his false claims that he won the election.
“The Unselect Committee refuses to debate the Election results, the reason for the massive crowd on January 6th, because they can’t!” he wrote on Tuesday.
Earlier that same day, he attacked his former attorney general, who has been a star witness of the Committee, saying, “Former A.G. Bill Barr, a RINO [Republican in name only] if there ever was one, didn’t have the courage or stamina to go after voter fraud – Was afraid he was going to be impeached. NO GUTS, NO GLORY!!!” The post (or “truth,” as they are called) received more than 33,000 likes.
And Thursday morning, he began demanding “equal time” in several posts.
“The Fake News Networks are perpetuating lies, falsehoods, and Russia, Russia, Russia type disinformation (same sick people, here we go again!) by allowing the low rated by nevertheless one sided and slanderous Unselect Committee hearings to go endlessly and aimlessly on (and on and on!). It is a one sided, highly partisan Witch Hunt, the likes of which has never been seen in Congress before. Therefore, I am hereby demanding EQUAL TIME to spell out the massive Voter Fraud & Dem Security Breach!” wrote Trump, who has 3.3 million followers on the site.
The third round of the hearings kicked off Thursday afternoon, with two more scheduled for Tuesday, June 21, at 1 p.m. ET and Thursday, June 23, at 1 p.m. ET. Seven hearings are expected to be held.
Truth Social has had a volatile run as far as adoption. On its first week in the app store late February, it received 729,000 downloads, according to Data.ai, despite registration glitches. Within a month, interest had plummeted, with downloads dropping 93% to an estimated 60,000 per week. (Trump, at the time, was not actively posting on Truth.)
By April, though, it was red hot once more as Trump said he wouldn’t return to Twitter, even if Elon Musk’s takeover bid was successful, and the site’s bugs were squashed. The app jumped to the top free iPhone apps chart, with more than 860,000 downloads in a week. But adoption has steadily declined since, says Data.ai.
Truth Social promotes itself as a free-speech platform that encourages “open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology,” though some people have reportedly been suspended from the site on questionable grounds—and the site’s own terms of service notes that it can delete or edit posts “for any reason.”
Despite the surge in interest, the social media site still has its share of headaches. Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), the special purpose acquisition company that is merging with the holding company for Truth Social to bring it public, said this week in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that securities regulators are seeking additional documents and information about the proposed merger. Specifically, authorities are interested in “communications regarding and due diligence of potential targets other than [Trump’s company].”
The focus of the review seems to be on whether the two sides negotiated before DWAC went public, which would be illegal.