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.