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pig

Pig in shit. (Not the hacker's pooping pig image. You're welcome.)  Photo by Steve Christo/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Wuhan Social Network: Follow the Grift

Abby Zimet

Where to begin. Proving irony is still hanging in there, famous champion of truthfulness and integrity Donald J. Trump has announced the launch of a new, Twitter-like social media platform called Truth Social. Oops, sorry: TRUTH Social, that will "stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech." It ostensibly bears no relation to Pravda ("truth"), but will be part of the yugest media empire in the galaxy, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), a "Mission Driven Organization" that will "fight for the First Amendment protections and freedoms of all Americans," also it's hoped make enough money to pay for the 728 lawsuits and investigations the former guy is facing. "We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced," he whined, because in truth he's 12 years old. "This is unacceptable.” With testing opening to "invited" users next month and a launch scheduled for early next year, Trump said he was "excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon," even though in his announcement he lied in his very first word by calling himself "President," which was weird, right? Still, improbably, it gets weirder and weirder.

Exceeding the fabulousness of earlier ventures like Trump steaks, vodka, water, university, travel magazine, bankrupt casinos and last year's failed blog, the guy who can barely read and may not know how to use a computer plans to "create a rival to the liberal media consortium" that has "used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America" - not anything he'd try to do - bringing Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Netflix et al to  their evil liberal knees with his app, fake news network and streaming service with the best in "non-woke entertainment" - mostly, judging from the glossies, sumo wrestling. His 22-page pitch-deck, which resembles those ads on TV for blankets you can wear, also offers lots of incoherent hyperbole - "Initial users will be catalyzed by the existing Trump universe" - vague promises -  per Netflix numbers he expects "hundreds of millions of viewers" - odd visuals - old newspapers touting his "entertainment success" with Miss Universe - gosh-whiz slogans - "Follow the truth," "What's really happening" - and tacky graphics like a cosmos of squiggly, dick-shaped "Technicolor spermatozoa" labeled OAN, Fox, Daily Wire etc zooming toward TMTG "galvanizing a conservative media universe," even though, actually, they'd be his competitors, but okay.

Then there's the money piece - important, and sketchy. The company will go public - sell stocks - through a "special purpose acquisition company," or SPAC, a popular shady way to avoid the regulatory process by partnering with a public shell or "blank check" company whose only purpose is to let grifty guys like him piggybank onto them to make money without oversight. The shell company for TMTG, which lists Mar-a-Lago as its business address, is Digital World Acquisition Corp. According to SEC filings, its CEO, Patrick Orlando, is also the CEO of some Miami businesses as well as a Chinese, Cayman-Islands-incorporated, blank check company called Yunhong Holdings, which sells an array of health supplements like "Natural Brain Booster Capsule" and "Bitter Gourd Peptides." It is headquartered in, wait for it, Wuhan, China. Digital World is reportedly ready to hand the guy who bankrupts everything he touches $300 million in spending money, though some investors have already bailed hearing who it would go to. They've (somehow) valued TMTG at $1.7 billion, and since news of the launch their stock surged over 350%. There's nothing new under the grifting sun: Good thing Ivanka got all those trademarks fast-tracked. 

The murk goes deeper in a dubious project some compared to "a flaming bag that needs stomping." Shockingly, it seems these guys didn't bother with legal niceties like copyrights in their marketing and listings: So far, Chevy, Tech-Crunch, New York Times and Mastodon, the open-source software the site's built on, charged use of their names "is unauthorized," they "have no affiliation with it," and they're looking into taking legal action, which is right up TRUTH's alley judging from its voluminous, 20-screen terms of service. Despite its claim to be an open, free, "Big Tent" platform to "give a voice to all," the site seems intent on shutting people up and threatening them with legal action if they can't. Clinging to the Section 230 rule that protects platforms from lawsuits and other safeguards Trump criticizes Big Tech for, they insist users must not "annoy, disparage, tarnish or otherwise harm us" and even - talk about cancel culture - "refrain from excessive use of capital letters," 'cause apparently one of their guys has some weird obsession with them. Many snickered at the finicky, wildly hypocritical rules, noting every user is going to get their identity and financials stolen anyway: "Dude, it's literally hosted by Epik, the least secure servers on the planet."

Speaking of: Despite boasting about "building a 'non-cancellable' global community," merry pranksters decimated the site almost immediately. Within two hours, hackers had gotten access to an unreleased test version and gleefully created bogus accounts in the names of Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, QAnon's Ron Watkins, body parts, variations of Donald J. Trump and other hateful luminaries. Some said they were part of Anonymous - Canada's Aubrey Cottle tweeted the link and invited everyone to "come join the party" - and the site quickly shut down. "A hush falls upon TRUTH Social," tweeted Washington Post tech reporter Drew Harwell, who had taken to breathlessly reporting updates on "the early mess inside Trump's social network." The final, ignominious blow: One wise guy got access, made a fake account in Trump's name, and under it posted a truly grotesque image of a swollen-scrotum, shitting pig. We assume the pig, too, fits under the "Big Tent" rubric, especially after a coked-up, yelling Donnie Jr. told Sean Hannity the goal of the new project, after all that Communist censorship, is to "let everyone express their feelings." Meanwhile Harwell, still on the case, dutifully reported the pig was being dubbed "Pig Poop Balls," adding, "Just bringing you the important news, folks." Ain't it the truth.

Snowflakes: One fragment of their terms of service: You'd think they were planning to fleece people or something.

 
 
 

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Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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