The development of former President Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social has a direct link to Poast, a notorious far-right forum filled with praise for neo-Nazis, racism, and other bigotry.
On Tuesday, the Daily Dot reported that Poast’s usernames, email addresses, and direct messages had been recently posted online. The material hasn’t been verified, but Poast’s founder and other insiders admitted the data leak occurred. The content of it revealed the platform is rife with the type of far-right odiousness common on fringe platforms like 4chan and Kiwi Farms.
The founder of Poast, Daniel Stevens, reportedly claimed he worked at 4chan and boasted in conversations about Poast’s ties to Truth Social.
The Daily Dot has since learned that a developer for the software Poast runs on also worked on Truth Social. Alex Gleason is head of engineering for Trump’s site. Executives with Truth Social, including former congressmen Devin Nunes, thanked Gleason for his contribution to the platform on multiple occasions.
Messages between Stevens and Gleason contained in the leaked materials imply the two worked together. Messages show people asking about Gleason troubleshooting problems on Poast.
According to a direct message from Stevens, aka “graf,” contained in the leaked materials, “Trump’s Truth Social is built on Mastodon but [is] using the front end built directly on Poast.”
Per Stevens, Truth Social included some of Poast’s code or design on the site. In February, Stevens claimed that Truth Social uses Poast’s front end for its “UX” or user interface.
Poast launched in January 2021, which was when both Stevens and Gleason joined, according to their account bios. That October, Trump announced that he was going to launch Truth Social. Both platforms use Soapbox, a user interface that Gleason created.
The messages in the leak show that Stevens also believed that the two platforms planned to work together at an unspecified date in the future.
Neither Truth Social’s press office nor Stevens responded to emailed request for comment sent on Wednesday afternoon. Stevens posted a screenshot of the Daily Dot’s inquiry on Poast and said it was “bordering on harassment.”
Gleason declined to comment on his work because he took umbrage with the Daily Dot describing Poast as Kiwi Farms’ successor.
“Poast bans doxxing, which is the quintessential thing that makes Kiwi Farms what it is,” Gleason wrote via email.
Kiwi Farms’ demise began in earnest late last summer, largely as the result of public pressure over its users doxing and harassing a prominent Twitch streamer and trans activist.
Records from a site that monitors traffic on the Fediverse aka Federation—sites that use its open source code, such as Mastodon, Truth Social, and Poast—show that Kiwi Farms’ loss was Poast’s gain; the platform’s total users roughly doubled throughout the fall, when Kiwi Farms was struggling to stay online.
The leaked materials also show that dozens of Poast users had “kiwi” in their screen names or the email addresses they registered their accounts with. Kiwi Farms’ founder, Joshua Moon, also had a Poast account.
Poast has relatively few users—roughly 30,000 as of this writing—but it rapidly became a haven for some of the internet’s most noxious content. Whether Trump’s team was aware of the content on Poast or their developer’s ties to it is unknown.
The leaked materials show that multiple users’ screen names include the word “loli,” internet slang for young female anime characters. Examples include “lolirape” and “loliappreciator1488,” the latter a mashup of both child sexual content and code for white supremacist slogans.
After Stevens posted a screenshot of the Daily Dot’s email, which asked about the loli content, a user commented, “It’s crazy how much trouble graf could’ve avoided by simply choosing to not harbour pedophiles and child pornography content.”
Earlier this year, a blogger pointed out that Gleason was a bridge between Truth Social and the Fediverse.
Last May, Nunes, the former congressman, who is chief executive officer of Truth Social, tagged Gleason in a post congratulating “our entire @truthsocial team for a successful launch of our web version.”
The post includes a photoshopped image of former President Donald Trump hanging a medal around the neck of a man who appears to be Gleason, based on his Truth Social profile picture.
In February, a now-former Truth Social executive tagged Gleason in a post thanking him and others for “[making] it possible.”
Gleason describes himself as head of engineering for Truth Social on his verified account on the platform.
Other DMs from Stevens to users complaining about Poast show him responding that “Alex” was troubleshooting concerns on the site.
Poast founder Stevens’ leaked messages show that he believed that his platform was going to have an even closer relationship with Truth Social in the future.
“Alex has been working directly with them/Poast and the people in charge absolutely want to federate[.] It won’t be originally but on advice they are considering it strongly,” he wrote in January 2022, per the leaked materials.
When the person he was corresponding with reacted incredulously, Stevens wrote that “Alex and the higher ups” said that this would occur once Truth Social got “stable.”
In the same message thread, Stevens wrote that he’d joked about Truth Social stealing Poast’s icons the previous October “to see if people would notice.” The icons he mentioned are fairly generic to social media platforms and include common icons for “home” and sending messages.
Last spring, according to DMs, Stevens and Gleason had a bit of a falling out, per their message history.
“I’m never going to forget what you did and how you treated me. That was very poor decision making,” Gleason wrote, going on to demand an apology before he would resume being friends.
According to the messages, Stevens was frustrated about some issue he was having with the site and when Gleason didn’t help, he posted about it publicly. Gleason claimed that Stevens was “upset I’m not your top priority anymore” and wanted to “control” him.
Stevens subsequently apologized and they patched things up.
“I accept your apology. Thank you,” Gleason wrote. “If we stay divided the only one who benefits is big tech. I think in the long term it will be important that we can be allies.”
Correction: This post originally misattributed a quote from Stevens to Gleason and incorrectly described Gleason’s connection to Poast. He built the software Poast runs on but he denied he is an administrator.