Trump's "free speech" platform Truth Social bans users who post footage from Jan. 6 hearings

The site professes to be a safe haven for unfettered speech – unless that speech is anti-Trump

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published June 13, 2022 11:46AM (EDT)

Donald Trump | The US Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021 (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump | The US Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021 (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Users of Donald Trump's social media platform, Truth Social, were reportedly suspended after mentioning the ongoing January 6 hearings, putting the site's "free speech" bona fides in a harsh light. 

The platform, which professes to be "free from political discrimination," came under scrutiny after multiple users took to Twitter to announce that they had been removed from the site after posting content that may have appeared unfavorable to Trump. 

"My Truth Social account was just permanently suspended for talking about the January 6th Committee hearings," tweeted user Travis Allen. "So much for 'free speech.' This is censorship!"

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"I was suspended from Truth Social for posting about the January 6th hearing last night. Donald Trump is scared of free speech," echoed Democratic strategist Jack Cocchiarella. 

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Other users alleged that their accounts were censored and deactivated for posting footage of Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter, casting doubt over her father's baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election, according to Insider. 

Despite the platform's apparent commitment to unfettered speech, Truth Social has unilateral authority to moderate content to its own liking. According to the site's terms of service, Truth Social reserves "the right to, in our sole discretion and without notice or liability, deny access to and use of the service (including blocking certain IP addresses), to any person for any reason or for no reason." 

Truth Social also tells users it can "terminate your use or participation in the service or delete [your account and] any content or information that you posted at any time, without warning, in our sole discretion."

RELATED: Trump's "free speech" app charges users a fee that goes to the National Republican Senate Committee

This broad authority is vested in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields social media platforms from liability related to illegal content that's published by third-party users. 

Trump launched Truth Social earlier this year, partly in response to his ouster from Twitter following the Capitol riot. Since then, the platform has been riddled with logistical, financial and technical difficulties. The platform's parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), has not reported any revenue, as Variety noted, and the company has said that it "may never generate any operating revenues or ever achieve profitable operations."

Back in April, two Truth Social executives abruptly stepped down from their positions just ahead of a "critical juncture for the company's smartphone-app release plans," as The Guardian reported. And this week, federal investigators expanded their investigation into TMTG and its blank check acquisition company, asking for "additional documents and information" into whether the two entities conducted any illegal communications.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Brief Donald Trump Jan. 6 Hearings Trump's Big Lie Truth Social