Trump's Truth Social Is Kind Of A Trash Fire
Over the past several years — at this point we've lost count of how many — conservatives have been railing against social media for the supposed "censorship" of their views. As such, they have turned to creating their own social media sites, each proclaiming that it will be the true bastion of free speech the right has been waiting for, and each, ultimately, instituting rules of conduct as strict or stricter than those of mainstream sites like Twitter or Facebook.
Parler has banned users quite freely, Gab has banned users for a variety of offenses, and both of them prohibit pornography. Jason Miller's Gettr banned Jon Miller, a Black conservative pundit, for using the n-word in his profile, and also banned use of the term "Groyper." Mike Lindell's Frank Speech, which never actually ended up being a social media site, was supposed to ban taking the lord's name in vain.
Truth Social has been no exception. What was supposed to be Donald Trump's majestic triumph over the social media companies that gave him the boot, a glorious haven where the hate speech flowed as freely as the misinformation, is now a sad, weird "ghost town" filled with bots, glitches and censorship. In other words, it is not going well.
This weekend it even censored Roger Stone, when all he was trying to do was talk about how Trump, ever cognizant of "radical Islam," predicted 9/11 when he was running to be the Reform Party's candidate for president (only to lose to Pat Buchanan) in 2000.
On Saturday night, Stone took to Truth Social—which brands itself a free-speech haven—to post about “radical Islam,” including a picture of an old Trump campaign button and the comment, “Trump also warns again a growing threat of terrorism by radical Islam mix in the predicted the 9/11 attack.”
Truth Social, which has artificial intelligence censors working in the background, later applied a “sensitive content” warning, adding that Stone’s post “may not be suitable for all audiences.”
“Why would this be censored content on TruthSocial?” Stone wrote in a follow-up post featuring the same Trump campaign button. Notably, the second post was not slapped with a content warning.
On Sunday evening, Stone claimed to The Daily Beast that the incident was “a glitch” while adding, “repost the SUBSTANCE.” Truth Social didn’t return The Daily Beast’s request for comment Sunday morning.
Stone's not the first one to experience "censorship" on the app either. Truth Social has already banned multiple accounts and includes in its terms of service that it will ban users who "disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site." Also, if the app were censorship-free, it's real hard to imagine they'd have any "sensitive conduct" warnings at all.
He would not be the first one to suffer a glitch, either. Despite the site's self-imposed deadline of being "fully operational" by March 31, over 1.3 million potential users have found themselves unable to sign up due to technical difficulties, and have been put on a waiting list. Although they may not end up bothering once they do make it on, since those who are already on the app are not using it very much. Hell, Trump hasn't posted in weeks. Downloads have gone down 93 percent since the launch.
And it's not doing so great monetarily, either:
Trump in October announced the platform as a “rival to the liberal media consortium,” along with news that a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC) planned to merge with [Trump Media & Technology Group, for some reason abbreviated to TMGT and not TMTG] to take Trump’s company public. The news caused DWAC’s share price to soar from around $10 a share to as high as $175 during a short-lived frenzy after Truth Social was announced. The stock has since slumped, falling from nearly $100 a share in early March to around $60 Friday morning. It’s not clear at this point when TMGT will go public, especially since DWAC is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over reports it held talks with Trump before it went public last year.
But glitches and censorship may not be as big of a problem as the fact that a social media site for conservatives is not very appealing, at least partly because there are no libs there to "own." Last weekend, NBC News ran an article about how many conservatives have found Truth Social and all these fugazi Twitters and Facebooks largely unsatisfying, with many pointing out that they just don't enjoy being in an echo chamber.
Roland Johns, 19, was banned from Instagram after he amassed more than 35,000 followers with a mix of politically conservative content that included unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
It’s the kind of ban that might naturally push a young social media influencer to some of the alternative platforms that have gained traction in recent years, such as Parler and Gettr, which welcome far-right politics and have lax rules on posting misinformation.
But Johns isn’t particularly attracted to those options.
“It’s all just a Band-Aid because it’s our own little kind of echo chamber,” Johns said, explaining that he would prefer changes to major platforms that would allow for all speech to be posted.
The rules of these platforms are not that hard to follow, and would have nothing to do with politics if conservatives didn't just seem to have a more difficult time not using racial slurs, harassing people or spreading misinformation about crucial events like elections and pandemics. These rules exist not to hurt the feelings of conservatives, but so that the sites are pleasant-enough for the majority of people to use. As Truth Social proves, people do not actually tend to want to spend a lot of time on social networks that aren't a good time.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse