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Trump’s new social media platform about ‘truth’ doesn’t seem safe for Jews

Having been banned from most mainstream social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Donald Trump has had to get creative with his communications. Thursday, he announced his newest plan — his own social media app, called TRUTH Social, which is currently slated to roll out nationwide in early 2022.

It’s unclear what TRUTH Social will be like as an app; the advertisements for it look an awful lot like a banal Facebook feed, complete with blue branding and videos of a dancing orangutan. There’s no sign yet of Trump grandstanding about the fake news media or making America great again.

But don’t worry, the former president hasn’t toned down his rhetoric; the press release has the expected Trump-style punctuations and grandiosity. “I am excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon,” he is quoted as saying. “I’m excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH Social and to fight back against Big Tech. Everyone asks me why doesn’t someone stand up to Big Tech? Well, we will be soon!”

Trump’s statement implies that the branding will call each post a “truth,” much like each post on Twitter is a tweet. This kind of branding will likely subconsciously lend “truthiness” to the posts, associating the Trump name with truth and reinforcing the assumption that everything on the platform is factual. After all, how could you log on and “truth” while lying?

Trump has long railed about truth, accusing journalists and Democrats and even scientists of promoting “fake news” while proclaiming himself the white knight of veracity, going to battle to protect fact at all cost. But the real truth is that Trump lies; a rather glaring example is his false proclamation that he won the 2020 election.

The press releases and advertisements around TRUTH Social have not provided any information about moderation to prevent the kind of spread of disinformation and lies that have plagued other platforms — the very ones that kicked Trump off for his own role in spreading fake news. (Users will be prevented from making fun of the app itself, however.)

TRUTH Social is not the first social media platform to promise minimal moderation and openness to all sorts of views; other apps such as Gab, Parler and Telegram also promote an openness to all viewpoints and promise very loose terms of use. They are, relatedly, known as bastions of white supremacy, antisemitism and hate speech.

Jews have been among the victims of the disinformation and conspiracy theories that flourish when platforms have little to no moderation, whether that’s QAnon’s theories about secret cabals or the overt antisemitism of the Pittsburgh shooter’s rants, which he posted to Gab. (Gab’s founder, Andrew Torba, recently tweeted a long antisemitic rant himself.) We know the value of truth, and are intimately familiar with the way unmoderated platforms, like TRUTH Social promote the opposite.

A tiny army of truth. Image by iStock

Perhaps that’s why truth is the animating quality for one of the most famous defenders of Jews everywhere — the golem. As the story goes, Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, created a man-shaped creature of mud and clay, bringing it to life with the holy word “emet,” or truth. The golem then protected the Jews of Prague from the Christian community, which was accusing them of blood libel — much like QAnon is doing today.

It seems unlikely that TRUTH Social will find major success, or at least no more than the other similar platforms, particularly given that it does not offer anything that isn’t already part of established platforms aside from the Trump brand name. Still, even if Gab and Parler haven’t reached the mainstream popularity of Twitter or Facebook, they’ve helped far-right ideologies to flourish. Even with limited success, yet another space open to white nationalism or neo-Nazi ideologies is dangerous. We should have our golem at the ready, powered by real truth.

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