Careless and incoherent.
I keep expecting Donald Trump to surprise me (in a good way) but my anticipation is regularly dashed. The most recent example is Trump’s new “TRUTH Social” platform, his response to the censorship of the Big Tech platforms that have censored him and others based on thinly-veiled partisan motives.
An ethical platform to counter their abuse of open discourse and support of biased journalism is greatly needed, and Trump, one would think, has the resources and connections to create a good one.
One would think.
But, as usual, the former President can’t get out of his own way, and also as usual, has failed to hire “the best people” he once boasted about. For example, The Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) appears to have violated a license agreement by taking the code of the decentralized social network Mastodon and neglecting to abide by its terms. Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit that enforces free and open-source software licenses, said even Trump must comply with the Affero General Public License (or AGPLv3). A condition of the APGLv3 is that every user can receive the complete corresponding source for the website based on that code. Truth Social violated that provision by referring to its services as “proprietary.”
It’s probably just a mistake, but this platform can’t afford mistakes, because it has no good will, no wiggle room, no ability to be given the benefit of the doubt by the hoard of critics waiting to pounce. Trump’s platform is like Jackie Robinson: it has to be perfect, because the knives are already out. No, it’s not fair, but that’s reality, and Trump, of all people, must know it. It is stunningly incompetent to make unforced errors….except that’s what Trump does.
Then there’s this gaffe, flagged by Jonathan Turley, which is even more ominous. The “Terms of Service” of the new social platform that champions free speech and open discourse without Twitter and Facebook-style censorship begins with an intimidating set of warnings and requirements more typical of a hotel construction contract than social media. Then we see this:
“As a user of the Site, you agree not to…disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site. (In another section, users are told that they must not “annoy” employees of the site.)
“While companies like Twitter have embraced biased and extensive censorship platforms, they do not censor criticism of their sites. Indeed, while Twitter has refused repeatedly to “verify” my identity, it has never censored my many tweets criticizing the company or its officers. It is not clear what “us” encompasses, which adds a dangerous ambiguity to the regulation of speech on the site. Free speech demands bright lines. Saying that you can censor criticism of “us” without a definition is an absurd rule of service. The reservation also uses sweeping and ill-defined terms of “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm,” which could mean anything. Merriam Webster defines “to tarnish” as “to dull or destroy the luster of by or as if by air, dust, or dirt” or “to detract from the good quality of ...[or] to bring disgrace on.” That could mean anything from mocking to outright defamation.”
Oh, yeah, this project is going to go well….