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Truth Social’s Inexplicable Censorship, Heavy-Handed Terms of Service Defy Free Speech Promises

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former President Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social engages in inexplicable censorship of both conservative and liberal viewpoints, according to a new Public Citizen report released today. Despite being marketed as an uncensored platform for free speech, the site is governed by heavy handed terms of service that are more restrictive than any similar platform, the report found.

“Truth Social is far from the haven of free speech that Trump promised, as even conservative viewpoints and links have been shadow-banned,” said Cheyenne Hunt-Majer, a fellow for Public Citizen and author of the report. “It’s not at all clear how Truth Social determines which content will be labled as sensitive, why some content is censored after it’s posted, and why other content seems to be preemptively blocked from appearing on the platform at all.”

Hunt-Majer set up an account on Truth Social and documented numerous instances of shadow-banned content firsthand. A shadow ban fully or partially blocks a user’s content without warning, notice, or recourse. Banned content included:

  • Coverage of the January 6th Committee hearings;
  • Pro-choice opinions;
  • Pro-gun messages by country music star Blake Shelton;
  • Criticism of U.S. support for Ukraine; and
  • Links to far-right website Breitbart.

In some instances, posted content did not appear on the site for days or ever. And in one case, Hunt-Majer’s viral video highlighting the absurdity appears to have triggered a change of heart among site moderators regarding the phrase “abortion is healthcare.”

The report found that Truth Social’s content moderation practices lack the transparency, consistency, or nuance typical of major social media platforms. Unlike Twitter, Truth Social bans all sexual content and explicit language. Its terms of service also allow moderators to ban anyone whose content is deemed “libelous, slanderous, or otherwise objectionable.”

“Truth Social was marketed as an alternative platform for users seeking less content moderation, but the site’s terms of service are so broad and so ill-defined that it’s effectively more restrictive than Twitter, the site’s closest competitor,” said Hunt-Majer. “Studies generally show that most Americans want clear and transparent content moderation policies online. Without that, user frustration with Truth Social is likely to continue growing.”