If Trump Ever Actually Creates A Social Network Of His Own, You Can Bet It Will Rely On Section 230

from the i-mean,-come-on dept

There have been rumors for ages that former President Donald Trump might "start" a social network of his own, and of course, that talk ramped up after he was (reasonably) banned from both Twitter and Facebook. Of course Trump is not particularly well known for successfully "starting" many businesses. Over the last few decades of his business career, he seemed a lot more focused on just licensing his name to other businesses, often of dubious quality. So it was no surprise when reports came out last month that, even while he was President, he had been in talks with Parler to join that site in exchange for a large equity stake in the Twitter-wannabe-for-Trumpists. For whatever reason, that deal never came to fruition.

But, over the weekend, Trump spokesperson (and SLAPP suit filer) Jason Miller told Fox News that Trump was preparing to launch his own social network in the next few months. Amusingly, right before Miller made this claim, he noted exactly what I had said about how Trump being banned from Twitter and Facebook wasn't censorship, since Trump could get all the press coverage he wanted:

“The president’s been off of social media for a while,” he told Fox News Media Buzz host Howard Kurtz, “[but] his press releases, his statements have actually been getting almost more play than he ever did on Twitter before.”

But he then followed that up with an offhand comment saying:

I do think that we’re going to see President Trump returning to social media in probably about two or three months here with his own platform.

And this is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media, it’s going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what exactly President Trump does. But it will be his own platform.

Many, many people have assumed that -- just like revealing his tax returns, infrastructure week, and his shiny new healthcare plan -- that this announcement was just bluster and nonsense with no actual expectation that anything will ever be done. And that is perhaps likely. Even Trump's normal allies seem less than thrilled with the idea, though mainly because it may lead to further fragmenting among the "social media website for MAGA conspiracy theorists." Others have, quite reasonably, pointed out that a social media site built on Trump's cult of personality is likely to be crazy boring and just not that interesting.

However, I kind of do hope that it actually comes to be, if only to see just how quickly Trump's new social network has to rely on Section 230 to defend itself in court. Remember, Trump spent the last year of his presidency slamming Section 230 (which he completely misrepresented multiple times and never seemed to actually understand). You may recall that one of the parting shots of his presidency was to try to block military funding if Congress wouldn't completely repeal Section 230.

But, of course, if a TrumpBook ever came into actual existence, you can bet that (1) it, like Parler, would need to speedrun the content moderation learning curve, and (2) would certainly be subject to some lawsuits regarding whatever insane crap its users would post. Trump's own comments on his own site would not be protected by Section 230, as that would be content created by an "employee" of the site itself, but the site would be protected from liability from whatever nonsense his sycophantic fans posted. And you can bet that his lawyers (assuming he could find any who would work for him) would very quickly lean on Section 230 to protect the company from any such lawsuits.

I mean, we've already seen Trump rely on anti-SLAPP laws in court, despite demands to "open up our libel laws." So he's already got a precedent for relying on the very same laws he hates in court. Hell, Trump has even relied on Section 230 in court to argue that he wasn't legally liable for his own retweets.

So, sure, let him start his own social network, and then be forced to recognize how Section 230 is actually something that he needs.

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Filed Under: donald trump, section 230, social media


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  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 9:39am

    I bet it gets hacked within a week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 9:40am

    Like Gab and Parler before it, a theoretical Trump-branded social interaction network would garner a lot of attention early on before hitting a wall with its userbase numbers and potential for growth. The reason for that is four little words: the “worst people” problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      our little words: the “worst people” problem.

      It's called "positive reinforcement", but in the collective opinion of the majority of the world (and particularly the USA), it will be of a negative nature. That will serve only to point out all the more easily just exactly who failed to grow up and learn to think for him/herself.

      The platform's mission will be to instill an even stronger sense of community, and reinvigorate the call to "restore the real president to his rightful seat", etc. yadda yadda, so on and so forth. Under current Twitter/Facebook rules, that's not a likely scenario, hence the annoucement - to whet appetites of the mental-toddlers for yet more bullshit..... errrr, conversations about how to put their Beloved Leader For Life back on his throne.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 1:28pm

      Re:

      (I posted an earlier response, but it was held for moderation. Whether or not it comes back, we'll see.)

      There's a lot discuss about "the worst people problem", but I want to leave that for now (vis-a-vis my earlier post), and deal with "lot of attention" and "potential for growth". It seems to me that #45''s got immediate access to more than 70 million Americans that are slavishly sitting in his pews, plus a fair number of journalists, analysts, and "just curious" looky-loos. The latter grouping will likely stick it out for as long as possible, but the former group, aye, there's the rub.

      I think, without any real evidence besides my "feelz", that it will take a long time to burn through that large a number of adherents. IMO, the number of people who will get bored and leave will be small at first, and the acceleration rate of departures over time will not increase either. That's going to come down to the hardcore 20-50 most zealous acolytes repeating the Daily Mantra for all to see, and the rest of the board's population will simply not see any reason to move on elsewhere. After all, it's really going to come down to confirmation bias. IMO, of course.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 6:21pm

        Ah, but see, this isn’t about departures (though that will happen). This is about the room Trump’s theoretical social media service would have for growth.

        Sure, the service will snag a significant number of users at the outset. I don’t doubt that. And barring a surprise shutdown or something similar, I also don’t doubt that it’ll keep a hefty number of those users over time. But the real question is how big the numbers can/will get when people find out that the Trump social media service is another “conservative”-friendly service like Gab and Parler, where the mods allow bigotry and shitheadedness to run rampant.

        That’s why the “worst people” problem is a problem: It always inhibits growth. A service can’t keep people around if they’re surrounded by assholes, and it can’t keep bringing people in if they know they’ll be surrounded by assholes. The only real solution is to keep people from being surrounded by assholes — which should be easy for anyone to accomplish if they’re not an asshole…or part of the Spaceballs.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 11:58pm

          Re:

          "But the real question is how big the numbers can/will get when people find out that the Trump social media service is another “conservative”-friendly service like Gab and Parler, where the mods allow bigotry and shitheadedness to run rampant."

          Nobody not already in the cult would even bother to try a Trump branded service out, and those in the cult think that bigotry and shitheadedness are the free speech they want to begin with.

          Not everyone's a fully fledged cult member to begin with and those communities can get pretty toxic even to their own people, but I would say that the maximum ceiling is people who already support Trump and his international hangers-on, while the more likely scenario is that they get a few million regular users who don't generate enough long-term revenue to make things liable long term - though this may help competitors who are finally free of the extremist morons gumming up their normal social media outlets.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        sumgai (profile), 25 Mar 2021 @ 9:20am

        Re: Re:

        I lean more to PaulT's view, rather than to Stephen's. But Paul's final two or three sentences will be the telling point - to be viable (nee "liable"), the platform will have to pay for itself, because it's sure as Gawd made little green apples that Trump won't pay a bleeping penny towards the bills to run the thing. He's expecting that his name will automagically make all mundane things like utilities, hosting services, and all that, just "pay for themselves", out of thin air. And when the users don't pony up either in direct donations, or in buying advertised products (for a cut, of course), then he'll just simply declare bankruptcy, and start another service.

        In fact, to avoid S.230 lawsuits, he might get the bright idea to simply start and host his service outside of the USA borders in the first place. He'll escape culpability by saying he's "simply leasing my name to the service", or some such. And the "royalty" checks for that lease won't go directly to him, they'll go to his PAC, to become indiscernible from all the other dark money flowing into their coffers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 9:50am

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    N. 'Duke' Orse, 24 Mar 2021 @ 9:56am

    If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

    Yet again railing about TRUMP! Sheesh.

    Next is one of Techdirt's many attempts at exposing "hypocrisy" by claiming that opponents must be ideologically, so should NOT pursue a currently lawful course (which doesn't have any baggage with it of harming someone as abortion does), thereby disarming themselves -- standing still so that tiny little toothless ankle-biters like Masnick can slobber all over their socks. Sheesh.

    Maz, you're FUNNY as hell when taken right, but you do no damage and ought to know better by now. -- AGAIN, you need some positive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 9:58am

      Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

      Good guy with a gun who saved the day (non police) because of easy access to firearms

      Boulder: 0
      Orlando: 0
      Parkland: 0
      Las Vegas: 0
      Aurora, CO: 0
      Sandy Hook: 0
      Waffle House: 0
      San Bernardino: 0
      Midland/Odessa: 0
      Poway synagogue: 0
      Sutherland Springs: 0
      Tree of Life Synagogue: 0

      Credit / Source

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:02am

      what in the flying amazon-position fuck does this have to do with the article

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:08am

      Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

      Fling more poop, Trumpanzee!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mononymous Tim (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 11:36am

      Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

      ..tiny little toothless ankle-biters..

      Speaking of, ever wonder how come your posts have to be expanded to laugh at them?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 11:48am

      Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

      At least Trump jailed Hillary as he promised so there's that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 24 Mar 2021 @ 12:08pm

        Re: Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

        And Mexico paid for it! Wait..that was a wall and it was expensive and parts of it are falling down.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          wereisjessicahyde (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 3:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment

          I thought Hillary was going to pay for the wall? Or was it Mexico paying for Hillary?

          So much bullshit I've lost track.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 3:42pm

      Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

      Can anybody translate this into English?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 4:26pm

      Re: If Maz ever wants a gun, he'll rely on 2nd Amendment.

      Let’s set aside whether or not guns are actually helpful in such situations. Masnick hasn’t really spent much time discussing the 2nd Amendment at all. Gun rights, gun control, and the 2nd Amendment are rarely even mentioned on Techdirt beyond noting that many pro-2A people are less insistent on protecting other rights, or that someone is known for having strong opinions on such issues, or noting cases where someone was shot solely because police thought that they had a gun but it wasn’t out in the open or where the police broke into the home and an occupant exercised their right to defend their home from unknown intruders. None of it was anti-2A, pro-gun-control, or any of that. Sure, many commenters have taken such stances in the comments, but neither the articles nor their writers did.

      Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly and vehemently attacked §230, calling for its repeal or reform (mostly repeal) in many occasions, both as President and as a private citizen. He has never expressed support for or said anything even neutral about §230. He even tried to hold up a military spending bill because it didn’t repeal §230 (which, of course, has literally nothing to do with the military or spending at all)!

      As such, the idea that Trump will have to rely on §230 is far more ironic and hypocritical of him than the idea that Masnick will someday rely on the 2A, and the former also appears far more likely than the latter. The comparison you make is completely and utterly inapt.

      (Also, I’m unaware of any articles on Techdirt that even mention abortion aside from mentioning the speech rights of people who are pro-life or pro-choice or anyone sued by such persons, nor have any Techdirt writers appeared to have ever mentioned abortion in any of the comments on Techdirt or in their Twitter accounts. So why you even mentioned abortion is beyond me.)

      Furthermore, Masnick never said that Trump shouldn’t rely on §230. He just noted that it would contradict his vocal stance against §230, and that he should really rethink that particular stance if and when he does start a social media site if he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite (something Trump doesn’t seem particularly bothered by beyond calling any such accusations “fake news” when it’s inconvenient for him).

      As for Trump being mentioned again, he was brought up as a potential new entrant to the social-media space in recent news, and his stance on §230 is well-known. That makes this news on current events in an area Techdirt generally covers. It’s also been only, like, two months since he left office and slightly longer than that since he was kicked off of Twitter, and he’s still a public figure both as a businessman and as a former president who still tries to remain relevant in politics even now (and also as a subject of several ongoing criminal investigations, but that’s not exactly relevant to this specific article). That he’s being mentioned on this site now is essentially his own fault, not to keep beating a dead horse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 9:57am

    Love versus hate

    So he's already got a precedent for relying on the very same laws he hates in court.

    Like so many things among the completely unprincipled, his opinion of a law just depends on which side of the lawsuit he's on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:38am

    So the entry tier will be what $50 a month?
    And then teasers of better things the more you give?

    If it launches and it is not a pay service I will be shocked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:49am

      Re:

      Subscription services are so 2010.

      No Trump's going F2P MMO Microtransactions. Think 2000's cell phone nickle and diming. X posts per day, par per post after. You can read, but that like or comment will cost you. You can pay for VIP, gives you unlimited posting, but likes are a different service, cause hes borrowing Korean MMO's overlapping VIP subscription model.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 10:52am

        What’s sad is, this is sincerely believable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 1:58pm

        Re: Re:

        Or just take the model of donating to support a favorite content producer by paying some amount for a message that gets mildly amplified somehow, but apply it to everyone who wants their message more noticed on the entire platform.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 12:38pm

    I think a social media site run by Donald Trump would be terrible.
    I also think it should be called "Trumpet"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 1:23pm

    Still... it would probably have a better ROI then Oath.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 1:55pm

    Have at it

    I actually really hope this one turns out to be more than just empty lies, because it would be great in multiple ways for a Trump-centric platform to be created. Not only would it attract lawsuits like mad that would require them to make use of 230 but drawing in all the Trump cultists away from civilized platforms, and providing a neat response to any claims that they've been 'silenced' by being booted off the platforms people want to use('Just use TrumpBook, they love people like you') would be of great help cleaning up those platforms.

    I'm not so enamoured by the idea that it will be used to con gullible suckers in one way or another, but if people are going to be conned then it would at least be fitting that it be those that worship at the feet of a narcissistic con-man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2021 @ 2:03pm

      Re: Have at it

      I don't know, pretty sure he/they would want access to the APIs of other platforms to automatically and forcibly rebroadcast their shit elsewhere.

      If it stays a huge echo chamber and literally draws the majority of that ilk in, hey, moderation costs go down everywhere else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 24 Mar 2021 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: Have at it

        I don't know, pretty sure he/they would want access to the APIs of other platforms to automatically and forcibly rebroadcast their shit elsewhere.

        Oh I'm sure he and his cultists would like something like that, but even ignoring the constitutional issues of forced speech I don't see that happening as Facebook and Google would not be happy with something like that and would likely push back hard against any attempt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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