Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is)
from the because of course dept
Last night, Donald Trump sent out a press release announcing (effectively) the launch of his new social network, “Truth Social.” The press release shows that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Trump is launching “Trump Media & Technology Group” which is entering into a reverse merger agreement to become listed as a public company in order to launch this new service. Apparently, Truth Social will let in “invited guests” next month, followed by a full launch in early 2022. The press release has the expected bombastically ridiculous quote from the former President.
“I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech. We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable. I am excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon. TMTG was founded with a mission to give a voice to all. I’m excited to soon beginning sharing my thoughts on TRUTH Social and to fight back against Big Tech. Everyone asks me why doesn’t someone stand up to Big Tech? Well, we will soon!”
I mean, first off, it’s an interesting world in which you can both claim to be silenced, but also (a) put out a press release read by millions and (b) launch your own damn social network. Doesn’t seem that “silent” to me, but what do I know?
Anyway, given that Trump claims that the mission here is “to give voice to all,” I was pretty interested in Truth Social’s terms of service which (unsurprisingly), make it clear they can kick you off for any reason they want at all. Specifically, it says:
We reserve the right, but not the obligation, to:
(1) monitor the Site for violations of these Terms of Service;
(2) take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in our sole discretion, violates the law or these Terms of Service, including without limitation, reporting such user to law enforcement authorities;
(3) in our sole discretion and without limitation, refuse, restrict access to, limit the availability of, or disable (to the extent technologically feasible) your access or any of your contributions or any portion thereof; or
(4) otherwise manage the Site in a manner designed to protect our rights and property and to facilitate the proper functioning of the Site.
In other words, like every other website out there, Truth Social will moderate content.
Also, there’s this:
If we terminate or suspend your account for any reason, you are prohibited from registering and creating a new account under your name, a fake or borrowed name, your email address or the name of any third party, even if you may be acting on behalf of the third party.
In addition to terminating or suspending your account, we reserve the right to take appropriate legal action, including without limitation pursuing civil, criminal, and injunctive redress.
So, it sure sounds like Truth Social, giving voice to all, is pretty damn sure it’s going to have to kick people off its site (and maybe even sue them!). And why might they kick you off? Well, there’s a very long list of “Prohibited Activities.” I’ll highlight some of them…
use the Site to advertise or offer to sell goods and services.
How much do you want to bet that Trump himself will violate this?
engage in unauthorized framing of or linking to the Site.
If you LINK TO THE SITE in an “unauthorized” way, they can remove your account.
trick, defraud, or mislead us and other users, especially in any attempt to learn sensitive account information such as user passwords;
MISLEADING OTHER USERS is grounds for having your account banished. So much freedom.
use any information obtained from the Site in order to harass, abuse, or harm another person.
This kind of thing is standard on all social media sites — but which is notable because it’s what many Trumpists get kicked off other platforms for. And yet, here it is.
use the Site as part of any effort to compete with us or otherwise use the Site and/or the Content for any revenue-generating endeavor or commercial enterprise.
Any effort to use the site to make money and they’ll shut you down. That’s… weird.
harass, annoy, intimidate, or threaten any of our employees or agents engaged in providing any portion of the Site to you.
If you annoy Trump or any of his employees, no more Truth for you!
upload or transmit (or attempt to upload or to transmit) viruses, Trojan horses, or other material, including excessive use of capital letters and spamming (continuous posting of repetitive text), that interferes with any party’s uninterrupted use and enjoyment of the Site or modifies, impairs, disrupts, alters, or interferes with the use, features, functions, operation, or maintenance of the Site.
One of those is not like the others. Excessive use of capital letters? I mean, that’s not banned on any other social media platform I know of. Seems a lot less “freedomy” than we were led to believe. Also… excessive use of capital letters? Can I think of a famous social media user who regularly made use of that… hmm… who could that be…?
Also, there’s an indemnity clause (a pretty broad one actually), so that if they get sued for something, you may be on the hook for the legal bills:
You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold us harmless, including our subsidiaries, affiliates, and all of our respective officers, agents, partners, and employees, from and against any loss, damage, liability, claim, or demand, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses, made by any third party due to or arising out of: (1) use of the Site; (2) breach of these Terms of Service; (3) any breach of your representations and warranties set forth in these Terms of Service; (4) your violation of the rights of a third party, including but not limited to intellectual property rights; or (5) any overt harmful act toward any other user of the Site with whom you connected via the Site.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, we reserve the right, at your expense, to assume the exclusive defense and control of any matter for which you are required to indemnify us, and you agree to cooperate, at your expense, with our defense of such claims. We will use reasonable efforts to notify you of any such claim, action, or proceeding which is subject to this indemnification upon becoming aware of it.
So, when I first wrote this article I had a paragraph noting that once it actually launched I expected that Truth Social would speedrun the content moderation learning curve just like every MAGA-wannabe social network before it. But… of course, it’s even faster than that. You see, despite saying it wasn’t open, a bunch of fairly enterprising people figured out how to access the site and sign up for accounts via an unadvertised link. So someone set up a Donald J. Trump account. And posted quite an image.
The "donaldjtrump" account of Trump's TRUTH Social has already been hacked. pic.twitter.com/LDQ5w24tcV
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) October 21, 2021
Someone else created their own Donald Trump account:
Was just able to setup an account using the handle @donaldtrump on 'Truth Social,' former President Donald Trump's new social media website.
Although the site is not officially open, a URL was discovered allowing users to sign up anyway. pic.twitter.com/MRMQzjNhma
— Mikael Thalen (@MikaelThalen) October 21, 2021
And a Mike Pence account:
Anyone can create an account on Trump's social network TRUTH Social using a publicly available link. I literally just registered "mikepence." The site hasn't even launched yet and it's already this vulnerable pic.twitter.com/v9nPN8ibDS
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) October 21, 2021
And thus we learned that, indeed, the “freedom loving” Truth Social… is already banning accounts.
A hush falls upon TRUTH Social. pic.twitter.com/HSKMTMlEMU
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) October 21, 2021
Freedom is so fleeting. I mean, it went away even faster than all those other Trumpist social media sites. Oh, and it seems notable that even pre-launch, Trump’s “freedom” loving social media site has text ready to go for suspended accounts:
You can no longer use your account, and your profile and other data are no longer accessible. You can still login to request a backup of your data until the data is fully removed, but we will retain some data to prevent you from evading the suspension.
So… it seems that Truth Social has “permanent suspensions” all ready to go. Just like every other social media website, of course. But, at least they don’t present themselves as the antithesis of those other social media sites while all doing the same thing.
Either way, this can’t be a good week for all those other super thirsty MAGA wannabe social networks. Gab is still out there pretending Trump is posting on its platform (they just repost every one of his press releases on his “verified” account and say they’ve “reserved” the account for him). Then, of course, there was Parler, who promised not to remove content, but whose former CEO gleefully told reporters that he was suspending “leftist trolls.” And, then, of course, there was Gettr, which was taken over and “launched” by former close Trump aide, Jason Miller, and which also speedran the content moderation learning curve. Miller was unable to get his recently former boss to get on his own platform, and now they’ll be competitors.
And, hey, competition is a good thing. Let a million social networks bloom. But don’t expect one that is actually “taking on Big Tech” or guaranteeing that everyone has a voice. Because that’s not Truth Social. It’s just more lies.
Oh, and there are even some people suggesting that Truth Social is merely a reskin of Mastodon, as it matches almost exactly. If that’s the case, then it’s almost certainly violating Mastodon’s AGPL license. And, considering that Truth Social’s terms of service say that it is forbidden for you to:
Then it seems that it certainly would violate such an open source license. And, I’m not even going to ask why they’re including “Flash” in that list other than to wonder where they copied this list from…