News broke yesterday that Google is now allowing Truth Social, Donald Trump’s “free speech” social media app on its Play Store. It’s a huge backslide for Google, which previously blocked the app because it hosted violent threats. Supposedly, Google is now allowing Truth Social to be downloaded from its Play Store because its policies disallow violence, but Trump himself is still posting violent, racist and conspiracy-laden tirades on his platform.
Last week, our friends at Media Matters reported that Trump’s posts included disinformation about the 2020 election, an attack on the judge who authorized the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago residence – the judge was then subjected to right-wing threats – and amplification of the violent QAnon conspiracy theory.
OCT. 17 2022 UPDATE: Media Matters today released further reporting that documents Trump’s amplification of QAnon and Truth Social’s marketing strategy to appeal to QAnon followers.
If that weren’t evidence enough that Truth Social has absolutely no interest in upholding a policy that prohibits violence, two weeks ago Trump posted a racist threat against Republican leader Mitch McConnell that drew mainstream media scrutiny and condemnation from other Republicans.
In January 2021, Google’s YouTube indefinitely suspended Trump over concern for the potential of violence, but now Google seems to be testing the waters of what is acceptable when it comes to normalizing Trump’s extremism. With Facebook preparing to reinstate Trump on January 7, 2023, despite his continued proliferation of election disinformation and calls for violence, we worry that YouTube could be quick to follow.
Big Tech cannot continue to backslide on its commitments to civic integrity, community standards and content moderation that keeps vile, racist, misogynist hate and violence from becoming mainstream. Google should immediately reconsider its decision to allow Truth Social on its app store, particularly as the platform has already demonstrated that it will continue to to allow incitements to violence from Trump and his supporters.