Donald Trump's Website's Terms Of Service Rely On Section 230, And Promise To Remove Content That Violates Its Terms

from the such-cancel-culture dept

We had just noted that should Donald Trump ever launch his rumored social media website, it would undoubtedly rely on Section 230 despite the fact that Trump insisted that Section 230 must be repealed and even tried to block military funding if the law wasn't taken away.

Yet, apparently we don't even need to wait for his vaporware social media website to appear. As the excellent @Section_230 Twitter feed alerts us, the new "The Office of Donald J. Trump" website already appears to invoke the protections of Section 230 by mirroring its language in its terms of service concerning liability for 3rd party content:

OFP takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any User Content posted, stored or uploaded by you or any third party, or for any loss or damage thereto, nor is OFP liable for any mistakes, defamation, slander, libel, omissions, falsehoods, obscenity, profanity or other objectionable content you may encounter. Your use of Interactive Areas is at your own risk. Enforcement of the user content or conduct rules set forth in these Terms of Service is solely at OFP’s discretion, and failure to enforce such rules in some instances does not constitute a waiver of our right to enforce such rules in other instances. In addition, these rules do not create any private right of action on the part of any third party or any reasonable expectation that the Sites will not contain any content that is prohibited by such rules. As a provider of interactive services, OFP is not liable for any statements, representations, or User Content provided by its users in any Interactive Area.

As you can see, when it's Trump's own website, he declares that he gets full say and full discretion in how to moderate, and should accept no liability "as a provider of interactive services," just as Section 230 makes clear as well. Furthermore, for all of Trump's ridiculous talk about how content moderation is "censorship" or "cancel culture," his own website now makes clear that it may moderate however it sees fit:

Although OFP has no obligation to do so, it reserves the right, and has absolute discretion, to remove, screen or edit any User Content posted or stored on the Sites at any time and for any reason without notice, and you are solely responsible for creating backup copies of and replacing any User Content you post or store on the Sites at your sole cost and expense. Any use of the Interactive Areas or other portions of the Sites in violation of the foregoing violates these Terms of Service and may result in, among other things, termination, or suspension of your rights to use the Interactive Areas and/or the Sites.

And yes, this is all standard boilerplate kinda stuff that lots of websites have. But it demonstrates why websites need to be free to moderate, and why Section 230 is important in protecting websites from liability -- even for former Presidents who claim to hate the law (or, at least, demonstrate near total ignorance of the value of the law). The nice thing about both the 1st Amendment and Section 230 is that it protects you, even if you don't like it.

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Filed Under: content moderation, donald trump, intermediary liability, section 230, terms of service


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 31 Mar 2021 @ 9:05am

    The hypocrisy is delicious.

    This narcissistically expedient attitude of Donald Trump should be so lucky he didn't repeal §230 when he was prez. I guess it's "§230 for me but not for thee", eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Another exciting Spacex test goes BOOM!, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:09am

      Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

      This narcissistically expedient attitude of Donald Trump should be so lucky he didn't repeal §230 when he was prez.

      That HOSTS are immune for what USERS publish is all right. It's the immunity AND hosts still acting as publishers with full control that needs changed.

      I guess it's "§230 for me but not for thee", eh?

      No, Trump follows existing law -- the FULL text of the law, not changing it to suit by removing the "in good faith" part as Maz tried to do in arguing with me, see my comment with link below.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

        Enforcement of the user content or conduct rules set forth in these Terms of Service is solely at OFP’s discretion

        Where is the good faith provision in the above quote? It allows arbitrary moderation by OFP.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 11:28am

          Re: Re: Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

          No, no, you misunderstand - the moderation is done in good faith because it's Trump. As everyone knows, Trump is always acting in good faith. And pigs are always flying around him.

          /s for the one person that couldn't figure it out.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

        "Trump follows existing law -- the FULL text of the law"

        You should be in contact with Trump's lawyers. They need your advice when NY and Georgia indict him.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 12:14am

          Re: Re: Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

          "No, Trump follows existing law"

          I can point to 3500+ lawsuits against him that suggest otherwise, but given the number of new lawsuits incoming I don't know how long that figure will be close to accurate.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        @Section_230, 31 Mar 2021 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

        Donato v. Moldow

        "If the conduct falls within the scope of the traditional publisher's functions, it cannot constitute, within the context of § 230(c)(2)(A), bad faith."

        https://www.eff.org/document/donato-v-moldow

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 1:27pm

        Re: Re: The hypocrisy is delicious.

        It's the immunity AND hosts still acting as publishers with full control that needs changed.

        Hosts are completely liable for anything they publish themselves. Section 230 only immunizes them for the speech of others, and their moderation (or lack thereof) of such. Surely you knew that though, right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 31 Mar 2021 @ 9:50am

    Cognitive dissonance is a requirement for Trump supporters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 31 Mar 2021 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      "Cognitive dissonance" is the pseudoscience term for it, but the rest of us know the condition better by the term "cognition disability".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 12:41am

        Re: Re:

        "but the rest of us know the condition better by the term "cognition disability"."

        Or better yet, compartmentalization. To be a trump cultist, as with so many other religions, you first need to be able to hold two completely opposed assertions in your head simultaneously, without conflict. The fact that they then flip out and lose their shit completely when that border is challenged is just sheer mental self-defense in fear their minds will break if they're forced to actually reconcile those opposing views.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Tobias Harms (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 1:03am

        Re: Re:

        Most people I know with an actual cognitive disability is much nicer than this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 31 Mar 2021 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      It's not really cognitive dissonance or even hypocrisy it's a misunderstanding of the underlying thought process and motivations. Trump doesn't have anything against section 230, he just thought it would be useful to say so at the time. His supporters don't have anything against 230.

      Imagine you believe for some unknown but unshakable reason that life is a 0 sum game and you have two choices politically, every decision in politics is a tool to be used to take advantage of your neighbor or something they will use to take advantage of you. It's not about whether section 230 is good or bad overall. It depends on your personal context at the time, if it would be great for you but someone is donating money to help your side win if you say it's bad, then it's bad for you. You aren't pretending it's bad for you, you believe it's bad for you because it makes your side lose those donations..
      It's not about whether white supremacists "have a point" or "are really fine people", if they are helping you rob someone they are acceptable, if they are helping someone rob you they are not and those are the only choices

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Another exciting Spacex test goes BOOM!, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:01am

    Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

    That's actually the point of contention. I've never advocated that the immunity be removed from HOSTS for what USERS PUBLISH.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Another exciting Spacex test goes BOOM!, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:02am

      Re: Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

      ut YOU claim that HOSTS are PUBLISHERS and empowered to absolutely control what users wish to publish, on top of immunity! That's not the deal that S230 offers.

      Because HOSTS can only remove content in "good faith". Yes, I remarked -- or tried to, was repeatedly blocked -- on your piece this week in which lack of "good faith" was not shown by Plaintiff and so dismissed. -- BUT if it had been, then the law is CLEAR.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re: Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

        Sites can control what users get to publish on those sites. Why shouldn't Twitter be able to moderate speech on Twitter?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Apr 2021 @ 6:06am

        Re: Re: Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

        Uh-huh. Yup, it all boils down to this good faith shit, now that you morons ONCE AGAIN have been duped like the idiots that you are.

        Tell me, how many times does Trump have to make you guys look foolish before you stop believing his horseshit?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        kallethen, 1 Apr 2021 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re: Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

        I don't think "in good faith" means what you think it means. It's so broad and generic of a qualifier that it might as well say, "only if it happened on a day ending in Y."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Another exciting Spacex test goes BOOM!, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:02am

      Re: Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

      And of course here you're yet again ranting about TRUMP -- for clickbait and fanboys to do Two Minutes Hate on -- and trying to imply that he's a hypocrite by taking advantage of current law rather than being ideologically pure and disarming himself against the rabid leftists who are sure to attack the site.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Another exciting Spacex test goes BOOM!, 31 Mar 2021 @ 10:03am

      Re: Trump will have it moderated "in good faith".

      NOW, yet again, when it comes to "good faith", YOU, Maz, in quoting the law, simply REMOVED THE VERY CHARACTERS because you don't wish corporations to serve The Public, but to arbitrarily RULE over us!

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190201/00025041506/us-newspapers-now-salivating-over-bringin g-google-snippet-tax-stateside.shtml#c530

      Anyone with open mind, read through that thread, especially Maz's reply to me in which he deca-downs on that "good faith" is not required, judges ignore it, therefore he can remove the very words! -- Ya modify quotes of statute in a court to suit your view, folks, and it's PERJURY. Maz on his own site is merely LYING, sure, and lying is so habitual with Maz that you need to check even his quotation of statute! Sheesh!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2021 @ 11:29am

    But it demonstrates why websites need to be free to moderate, and why Section 230 is important in protecting websites from liability -- even for former Presidents who claim to hate the law (or, at least, demonstrate near total ignorance of the value of the law).

    Mike: I'm pretty sure you're reading what the ToS says wrong. I believe the correct interpretation is the site claiming to be an enemy of the state (for the sites understanding of what that means).

    (I mean you reading has logic and, so I'm pretty sure it must be wrong).

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 31 Mar 2021 @ 11:34am

    Trump and his minions...

    "Section 230 is a unconstitutional, a travesty and a threat to our country. But I'm going to use the hell out of it now that I can!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 31 Mar 2021 @ 12:50pm

    And after a decade or so of intense lobbying and nibbling away at it on a state and federal level, republicans will finally repeal 230, only to find their favourite services and propagandists swept up in the flood of lawsuits. The screaming propagandists will the turn around and blame the left for the self inflicted wound, screaming that they should have done more to stop them doing this thing to themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 12:46am

      Re:

      "The screaming propagandists will the turn around and blame the left for the self inflicted wound, screaming that they should have done more to stop them doing this thing to themselves."

      I keep saying that the absolutely worst thing you could do to the US of today is to just let the republicans and their contemporary horde of screaming clowns have everything they want. In the nation they're trying to build the democrats and liberals may have a harder time getting the word out but every Trump voter will be rendered completely voiceless. Their agenda, unlike that of democrats, can not be adequately rendered in writing without causing offense and grievance.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 9:54am

      Re:

      " only to find their favourite services and propagandists swept up in the flood of lawsuits."
      And? So?

      Republicans have been using scorched-Earth policies for years. They don't care how many of their own constituents or voters are swept up in their bad policies as long as they can "own dem liberals".

      As an example: they claimed there were tons of fraudulent mail-in ballots (without evidence) so they want to restrict mail-in ballots, even though a large number of rural, white, middle-age Republicans use mail-in ballots.
      But it's better if 100 Republicans can't vote by mail than let one more Democrat mail-in ballot get in.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 31 Mar 2021 @ 1:00pm

    'How dare you do what I'm going to be doing?!'

    It's grossly hypocritical to be sure but it is consistent, as that lot and Trump especially clearly believe that the law is there to serve them so it makes perfect sense that he would be all for using the law to engage in the same behavior he condemns others doing, because obviously when he does it it's justified.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2021 @ 1:02pm

    • the new "The Office of Donald J. Trump" website*

    The name is particularly precious. This man made a career in reality, and most pointedly on television, but also in the White House, of kicking people out.

    Seriously, some self-awareness here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 10:00am

    An experiment

    Here's an experiment:
    Who wants to post a left-leaning comment on his site, such as "black lives matter" or "gay people deserve equal rights", then get banned, and then complain about how the site is censoring liberal voices.
    Bonus points for taking the issue to Congress and getting them to debate whether Donald Trump's website is actually trying to censor liberal voices.
    Extra bonus points for getting Congress to haul Donald Trump in front of them and explain why his website is trying to block what liberals have to say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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