With Twitter descending into chaos since Elon Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of the company, more and more people have been leaving the site — or at least performatively toying with the idea of doing so. This has spawned many guides for Twitter refugees that offer a peek at what it’s like to use Mastodon or tips on navigating Discord and other alternative social platforms. Weirdly, Truth Social rarely gets a recommendation in these pieces, though it’s a shameless Twitter ripoff that recently dropped one of its more ludicrous content restrictions.
Donald Trump keeps insisting his social-media site has become “somewhat of a phenomena,” but so far, no prominent names have decamped from Twitter to Truth. That’s probably because, as New York’s John Herrman put it, “Truth Social has lately taken on some qualities of a QAnon forum, serving as a proving ground for election-related conspiracies as well as a general Trump fan site.”
Truth Social’s list of top hashtags — where “20 people talking” constitutes a trend — does support that assertion.
But if you can get past the #covfefe of it all, Truth Social is making a slight effort to be more welcoming to people across the political spectrum. When Truth launched for “invited users” in October 2021, its website claimed it “encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology.” And yet the site’s terms and conditions explicitly banned users from annoying or disparaging Trump or Truth on the platform. These two items were listed under “prohibited activities”:
As a user of the Site, you agree not to:
… 17. harass, annoy, intimidate, or threaten any of our employees or agents engaged in providing any portion of the Site to you.
… 23. disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.
It made sense that the people running Truth Social would want to mold it into a personal safe space. Devin Nunes, who resigned from Congress to be CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group, famously sued a Twitter user who posed as his cow and derided him as a “treasonous cowpoke.”
But it seems someone at Truth eventually realized these two rules did not fit the site’s desired image as a bastion of free speech. In the past few months, they were quietly dropped, and the terms and conditions now seem far more standard — though still broader than Twitter’s. Truth users are banned from posting “truths” deemed “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, violent, harassing, libelous, slanderous, or otherwise objectionable.” The “Prohibited Activities” section forbids all sexual content generally and any attempts to find a “sugar baby” specifically:
… Post offensive or sexual content on the Site or App, including but not limited to:
a. Sexual content or language;
b. Content that includes sexual activity, sexual intercourse or any type of sexual act;
c. Any content that portrays or suggest explicit sexual acts or sexually suggestive positions or poses;
d. Sexually suggestive (explicit or vague) statements, texts or phrases; or
e. Content in which sexual acts are requested or offered, including pornography, prostitution, sugar babies, sex trafficking or sexual fetishes.
As Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization, recently reported, Truth Social’s moderators still delay and block posts promoting both liberal and conservative viewpoints with no apparent rhyme or reason. And even after the removal of the “annoy” clause, users still “report that they have experienced censorship and bans after talking about topics that are unflattering to the former president, including the Jan. 6 Committee hearings.”
But is that really any different from Twitter, where we have Musk banning users who run clearly labeled Elon Musk parody accounts and ignoring his promise to consult a “content-moderation council” before unbanning Trump? I’d argue no. Truth Social may be a barely functional hotbed of QAnon activity that even Trump family members don’t use, but at least you won’t have to “toot” or learn what a “fediverse” is. Just think about it.
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