The Fallacy of the “Free-Speech Platform”

Recent talk of “free-speech social media platforms” opens Pandora’s Box for spreading hate online


Wesley McGovern, Staff Writer

This last month was an absolute whirlwind for Silicon Valley. From tech stocks crashing, Elon Musk pursuing Twitter, to the new kid on the social media block, Donald Trump’s “Truth Social,” things remain as unstable as ever. Yet, ever so surprisingly, Truth Social seems to be one of the ‘good’ things to emerge from the recent chaos. The app in and of itself is appalling, but the clarity of what a “free speech platform” looks like is necessary. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the “free-speech platform” that Twitter is slated to become.

After the controversial release of Trump’s new social media app, and the following criticisms of it hosting bigoted opinions; I just had to see it to believe it. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. 

Setting up an account was just like any other form of social media, after I sold my email and soul to the platform—or in other words, Trump—I was in. People started following me instantly, it was very clear that many of these were not real accounts. The names were generic and along the lines of “Americalovr123” or “Texasgirl977.” A quick reverse image search of the profile pictures returned results to stock-image websites with tags of “Patriotic woman” or “Honest man.” 

Although touted as the “#1 social media app on the App Store” for a few days, questions remain about the authenticity of the user population.  

But alas, real accounts started connecting with me, and shit got real. I was met with a follower from someone with “6MJNE” in their biography. Which stands for “6 million Jews never enough,” and this was far from an isolated incident. Many accounts have this acronym in their bio’s, as well as “WWG1WGA”or “where we go one, we go all,” which is the slogan for the QAnon movement. With little to no censorship, this app has become the breeding ground for fringe opinions that got many users kicked off of other social media sites. Including Trump himself, who was—and is—banned from almost every social media site under the sun following January 6th. Truth Social, however, gives him a new platform, while attracting his extreme followers.  

Structurally, Truth Social is nearly a carbon copy of Twitter, the font and icons for liking, sharing or “ReTruthing” a “Truth” (Tweet) are identical. Which makes this app very user-friendly and brings many radical opinions to more of a mainstream channel in doing so. 

Rather than going on the dark web to access channels of communication like 8chan for extreme and radical opinions, including that of the ever-so-relevant “great replacement theory.” These same opinions are found just clicks away on the app store and Truth Social adopts the same openness for extremes in a user-friendly and accessible way. 

4chan and 8chan are blamed for their involvement with massacres that have stemmed from conspiracies and ended in the Pizzagate shooting, Christchurch mosque shooting and more recently the Buffalo Supermarket shooting. 

Google has kicked 8chan off from their search engine and seriously restricted 4chan, to prevent these sickening patterns from repeating. Hate is unfortunately not going anywhere, finding like-minded individuals on the internet is easier than ever, even if these opinions are extreme and disturbing, on Truth, the process is streamlined. 

Bringing a platform for this hate to continue to exist in the name of the First Amendment is mind-boggling. Especially considering that the constitutional protection does not apply to private businesses or individuals. 

As much as Americans pride themselves on the freedom of speech, it doesn’t mean freedom of consequence. 

This notion is totally lost; in bringing “free-speech platforms” to the spotlight, we risk losing an already very fragile and polarized democracy—not saving it. Hate is not something that deserves a platform or a spotlight, and the fact that it so readily accessible on the App Store makes instances of discriminatory massacres so much more of a possibility in the future.