The Cringe

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

I touched on it yesterday, but Casey Newton wrote a lengthy piece, The hard truth about Truth Social, and I had too many highlights not to share.

What else is there to say about Truth Social? It’s based on technology from Mastodon, the open-source social network. Its parent company, Trump Technology & Media Group, hopes to go public this year through a lucrative SPAC. Its terms of service document, like its user interface, appear to be largely copied and pasted from elsewhere. It prohibits “false, inaccurate, or misleading content,” a policy whose successful enforcement would represent a first in the history of the internet.

As I said yesterday, for a social network designed for people who don't want big tech blocking speech they don't consider "true", Truth Social feels built from the ground up to be doing just that.

Run by Republicans, fixated on a narrow set of ideas, and pitched to people who feel alienated from the mainstream — that’s not a bad way to describe Fox News, which has been an economic miracle. If you believe, as I do, that Fox News has been a malign force in American politics, I think you want to stay attuned to the rise of its potential successors.

The company and its defenders will say, "it's actually a big tent network!" but let's be real, this is clearly a social network for conservatives. But as Casey says, so if Fox News, and that's massive, so it's not inconceivable that this could get big even if it's only targeting one side of the political spectrum.

“I always say, to kind of channel my inner George Bailey, that every time Twitter or Facebook kick someone off of their platform, another GETTR angel gets its wings,” he said. Perhaps it says something about the still relatively rare practice of deplatforming, then, that Parler and GETTR have relatively few angels in their ranks.

This is the hard truth, this boogeyman that the right has created is exceptionally rare, but there are people with a vested interest in the public thinking it's rampant.

That leads to these apps’ second problem: their market is smaller than they think it is. To hear Farmer and Miller tell it, the world is desperate for a less restrictive approach to content moderation. But TikTok, the most popular social network around, is also arguably the most restrictive — certainly in terms of which posts are allowed to go viral. The world is voting with its eyeballs, and the majority of people clearly prefer apps with robust moderation.

It's very good to point out that in the free market people have chosen Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok over 4chan, Parler, and whatever "minimal moderation" platforms have cropped up (which as mentioned above, Truth Social isn't at all based on their ToS.

These apps have other problems, of course. There are very few liberals posting on them, reducing the amount of polarized conflict that provides so much entertainment on Twitter in particular.

This gets back to a thing I wrote about last month, I love Twitter for letting me talk to people I disagree with, as well as the spicy takes that are just entertaining. An all-liberal Twitter wouldn't be as good either.

But aside from those [Trump] posts, Truth Social doesn’t look much different from its predecessors at all. It still looks to be structured for mostly one-way communication, broadcast primarily to an audience of Trumpist dead-enders.

Needless to say, I'm not bullish on Truth Social. It's #1 on the App Store right now, but we'll see how long that lasts. Also, can we cringe together at this example DM from their App Store promo images? 😂