Last week, a 21-year-old launched a new pro-Trump social media website in hope of giving Trump supporters a new platform that promotes free speech.
Addison Riddleberger says he started to create TrumpTown.com about five months ago after he noticed conservatives and Trump supporters were being censored, suspended, or banned from large platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Riddleberger said he pushed up the launch of the platform after his personal Facebook account was disabled 24 hours ahead of the midterm elections on November 6, with no explanation. He also said eight political pages he ran were either unlisted or closed, including “Standing for Americans,” “Patriotic Folks,” and “Freedom Catalog.”
Riddleberger said he invested more than $25,000 into his pages and 1.5 million followers.
“I’ve been working on it for a while,” Riddleberger said in an interview with The Daily Wire. “Once I was banned I went into overdrive.”
Upon logging into TrumpTown, users are greeted with a message that says “Welcome! TrumpTown is a hub for free speech and political debate.”
So far, Riddleberger said 45,000 people have signed up to his website after various media covered the launch, including Fox and Friends. He added that the platform hasn’t had paid advertising of yet, but some people have been facing issues with talking about TrumpTown on other social media platforms. He said, “Some users have told us that upon trying to share our social network in Facebook posts and groups, their post gets instantly removed and never sees the light of day — are the tech giants afraid of a little competition?”
Riddleberger, who was homeschooled and worked on full-time campaign work after graduating, said he first became interested in politics during the 2014 midterm election. He also said he was also influenced by his mother, who he says was the founder of the local Tea Party in his hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I’ve been in the political space on Facebook for about 3 years now, and know what conservatives want,” Riddleberger said. “So a few months ago I got a business partner and we brainstormed the idea, then we got with some developers.”
“People have gotten on the site and they absolutely love it,” Riddleberger said of his platform that has a Facebook-Twitter fusion feel to it. “Many users have written to us saying that they’ve been deleting their Facebook accounts and Twitter accounts upon joining the platform — pretty powerful.”
Riddleberger says his platform has a layout that is similar to Facebook, including a friends system and a newsfeed, but an anonymity feature that is more similar to Twitter. He said, “If you can’t go out and publicly support Trump because of your job or family, you can make a pseudonym and support the president anonymously, similarly to Twitter.”
TrumpTown currently has an Android app and is on the Google Play store and Riddleberger said there will be an iOS app next week.
Riddleberger said the effort to grow the platform and keep it running has been funded by his team’s own money and by the purchases of the four tiers of "pro packages," which include benefits such as a verified badge, seeing profile visitors, boosting posts and pages, and being a featured member.
When asked how the platform will avoid becoming an echo chamber, Riddleberger said he is more focused on building a community of Trump supporters, but welcomes people from all political persuasions.
“The platform is for Trump supporters who feel like they lost their voices on other platforms,” he said. “it’s open to everybody and everybody can engage in political discourse. We won’t discourage that whatsoever.”
He added that although they support free speech, there will be rules in place to keep a standard of what is permitted to be posted, but since the platform was put up so quickly “we are still working out our policies regarding what content is allowed.”
“We would remove something along the lines of KKK stuff and neo-nazi stuff,” he said. “That stuff is so unnecessary and fringe and I think it would make people misconstrue what the site is about.”
When asked what the platform would do when President Trump is no longer in office, Riddleberger said, “The community will be a good size by the time Trump is out of office, so we will likely do some polls and ask the community what they want to do and then do some sort of rebranding.”
“In August, Donald Trump Jr. said he would back a conservative version of Facebook, and here it is, so I hope he joins,” Riddleberger stated.