If Trump’s new social network survives its disastrous announcement, it could be a sinister threat to democracy

Donald Trump announced plans to create a new social media website, Truth Social, on Thursday. The former president said the Truth Social would stand up to the tyranny of big tech companies. Indeed, Truth Social is part of Trump’s ongoing efforts to co-opt and control the media, undermine democracy, and seize authoritarian power.

Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their networks after it became clear that he was spreading disinformation about the election, and after he directly used social media to encourage and encourage the January 6 right-wing coup attempt. Trump, the right-wing media, and even the ACLU have argued that the outgoing president’s ban was a violation of free speech, and Trump himself continues to beat the drum today. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge Twitter presence, and yet your favorite American president has been silenced,” He said In announcing the new network.

In this setting, the Truth Social is a horrible underdog fighting for the discourse of the weak against blacklisting the powerful. Despite this, the boss is not at all underpowered. The First Amendment is not intended to protect the President of the United States from press censorship; It is designed to protect the press from government interference.

Twitter and Facebook are media companies of their own terms of service. Like newspapers or magazines, they publish content that aligns with their editorial goals and vision. These goals are often unethical and harmful, and of course can and should be discussed in the public domain. But there is no ethical principle that says that media companies should print everything the president says without editing and without comment. Indeed, forcing media companies to give the president an unedited and unrestricted carte blanche to slander lies and propaganda is a clear violation of freedom of expression.

The press is under no obligation to say what the president says to it, or to allow the president to use its infrastructure and audience to achieve his own ends. the The New York Times Not obligated to make the president an ordinary essay writer; CNN is under no obligation to broadcast every word the president says without filtering or commenting. To say otherwise is to nullify freedom of expression and turn the press into the president’s little dog.

By banning Trump, Twitter and Facebook were asserting the independence of the press from the president’s control. The Truth Social is designed to challenge and undermine this independence. The site is, of course, openly political, as are many media outlets. But it’s also specifically linked to Trump’s megaphone and is being marketed as.

Trump is not currently president, despite the confused claims of some of his supporters to the contrary. However, he does indicate that he is likely to run again as a Republican in 2024, effectively running a permanent campaign.

Right-wing media such as Fox can be counted on to power a Republican president. But even Fox wasn’t radical enough and motivating Trump, who was angry at their admission that Biden had won the 2020 election. Trump doesn’t want supporters from the media, he wants media facts. Such was the allure of Twitter, that it could only send tweets directly to followers, without editorial involvement – at least for a while.

The Truth Social aims to give Trump the totally light-hearted outlet he craves. Although the launch page promises “a global open, free and honest conversation without discrimination against political ideology,” their terms of service paint a different picture. Users are not permitted to “disparage, misrepresent, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.”

In other words, people in the Truth Social cannot make fun of the Truth Social. Given Trump’s close association with the site, it is easy to imagine the site interpreting this rule broadly and forbidding any criticism of the former president. And what if Trump becomes president again while he’s the de facto head of a social media company? Will he use the regulatory power of the state to try to put his rivals out of business?

This is all assuming that the Truth Social has already started. Like many of Trump’s projects, this one appears to be more hype than foolproof. No CEO has been named yet, and it’s unclear if the company will actually offer a usable product. Although the project is supposed to be in beta and not open to the public, several people have managed to log in and create fake accounts on Donald Trump and Mike Pence. This does not bode well for the security or professionalism of the platform.

But Trump’s exemplary incompetence should not blind us to the fallout from his exemplary and fearsome efforts to undermine democracy. With the exception of future President Trump declaring Facebook and Twitter illegal, Truth Social is unlikely to challenge other large-scale social media platforms for market share. But Trump’s view of social media Pravda (which literally translates to “the truth”) Whoever thinks that an independent press is a vital check on government power should worry.

For now, Truth Social is a joke. But Trump was a joke once, too. Democracy cannot withstand many such broad lines.

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