Truth Social is the newest conservative marketed social media
|Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes|
ETHICS CASE CONTROVERSY
Truth Social joined the already full social platform race on February 21, 2022, created by the Trump Media & Technology Group. It is a right-wing social network which already faces two federal investigations with uncertain financial future. With this they have still managed to outpace rival social media platforms. Though it doesn’t compare with Twitter, and Facebook. Compared to its closest rivals such as Gab, Parler, Gettr, MeWe and Minds who averaged about 360,000 unique visitors in September Truth Social towers over them with a number of 1.7 million unique visitors all from the US. The right-wing social media platform has faced problems after problems since its launch date, one of those being two executives resigning after the app was launched still full of problems. A third executive was fired after filing a whistle-blower complaint which was that Truth’s parent company was relying on fraudulent misrepresentations. The company is currently under two separate federal investigations which is putting a $1.3 billion constraint on the already financially drained company. Much of Truth’s growth is owed to former President Donald J. Trump who is one of Truth’s founders and the star of the app. He is not the only well known right-wing politician or celebrity on this app; he is joined by Dan Bongino, Marjorie Taylor Greene and numerous conspiracy theorists, far-right influencers and many other Republican voters. The platform has had significant growth especially among the right-wing political party. This has made the platform bigger than anticipated. It is growing at a far faster rate than any of the social media platforms currently out there for consumer use. It does have its issues on the financial front which is why the company has its hopes set on a deal made with Digital World Acquisitions. The company successfully raised $300 million with their initial public offering of stock. They later received money from three dozen hedge funds which came to an additional $1 billion in finances upon the completion of the merger between the two companies. Though this deal will most likely fall through which will lead to Truth going from hoping to gain $1.3 billion to nothing. The reason for this is because Digital World is currently under investigations by both federal prosecutors and securities regulators which could lead to them having to liquidate themselves in early December and force them to return to shareholders the money raided in its I.P.O. The fact of the matter is if this deal falls through Trump Media will have to scavenge for financing to be able to keep Truth Social running.
Truth Social Star and Trump Media & Technology Group
CEO Donald J. Trump
Unique monthly visits over the past year
William Wilkerson, former executive of Trump Media was fired in October after publicly admitting to have filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC. He admitted that the company was using up about $1.7 million in cash each month. Truth has recently started running advertisements. This high amount of cash to keep this app running is probably one of the main reasons they finally started to run advertisements. Mr. Wilkerson said that if the deal with Digital World did end up falling through then “a plausible alternative would be for Trump Media to consider a merger with Rumble, a conservative video-sharing alternative to YouTube, which has emerged as Trump Media’s main business partner”(NYTimes). As shared to us through Mr. Wilkerson and a second person with knowledge of Truth Social’s operations about half the people that work at Trump Media’s office in Sarasota Florida, are Rumble employees. Rumble provides most of the backbone that allows Truth Social to function as well as it does. With Rumble having just completed its own merger with SPAC, giving the company roughly $400 million in cash and now being a publicly traded entity they will likely have a merger with Truth Social.
With Elon Musk completing his takeover of Twitter he has promised more lenient policies which could lead to some conservatives leaving Truth and heading back to Twitter. With Kanye West who plans to buy Parler there could be two new competitive apps that will be eye catching to conservatives which is the primary target of Truth Social. Though Truth is still on the rise and with the release of Truth Social on Android devices, it has granted access to a bigger population of people. About 40 percent of Americans use an Android operating system. Truth Social is still a very new platform. They are still trying to figure out their financial situation and they have grown at a faster pace than their competitors did at their age. The true test of what will happen to the company will be within the next couple of months. If they can successfully get funding to keep running then they will have a massive impact on what happens with the presidential election. If they flop and end up shutting down then it will go to show that even with a great amount of people and followers without proper financial backing a company is doomed to fail.
The primary stakeholders of Truth Social are Chris Pavlovski the founder and CEO of Rumble, who provides technology and services to Trump Media & Technology Group. Another one would be Devin Nunes former congressman and CEO of Truth Social who is the one who has the most to either gain or lose based on how Truth does, another one would be Donald J. Trump former president as the CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group who owns the rights to Truth Social. There are also all the employees that have been hired and all of those who own stock in the company.
From an individualist’s perspective, the actions that Truth Social is performing are exactly their ideals. The reason this is, is because truth social is all about protecting freedom of speech and allowing the users to say whatever they wish without reprimand or punishment. Similar to how other platforms react. Individualism has a couple key values that they follow, they believe that all values are human centered and each individual person is of extreme importance, and all individuals are morally equal so no matter who you are your voice matters, your opinions matter. Nobody should be able to tell you what you can and cannot say. The second amendment of the US constitution is a main value of an individualist. Truth Social markets themselves as protecting the First Amendment through an online platform which is rarely seen on most online platforms because of being forced to follow international laws. Most platforms have to create their sites under laws that appease all countries or risk being blocked in that country. Truth Social is primarily focused in America and marketed in America, plus it was created to follow American laws. This site has the highest amount of public freedom with what they can say. The application is also free to use which means they are not limiting who can use the app. Most apps view the needs of the group over the individual. They market themselves towards a target group which is usually a set age group, though they do have to put into consideration that people of other ages will probably access the site so they have to censor certain topics or discussions. These online platforms can have toxic people which cause issues and they have trolls who try to cause issues for the masses. Which sites try to stop by banning them or deleting what they have said so the masses cannot see what they have said. This app does not do this; they have marketed themselves as a platform where people can say whatever they wish whether that information is true or not. It will not be limited. People can view the site and choose to either believe or not to believe what they have read on their own. Which is exactly what an individualist wants from the world.
From a utilitarian perspective this social network platform can go against what they believe and follow their beliefs. The reason for this seemingly contradiction is because of what their moral beliefs are. They believe morality is meant to foster happiness and pleasure, though they oppose actions that lead to unhappiness. They believe an act is good if it truly benefits the majority. The utilitarian belief states there are always two sides of a story like a coin, so if something promotes happiness but also spreads false information by lying they would see nothing wrong with it because it is spreading a positive image. But if something tells the truth but it causes unhappiness then they would see something wrong with it and disagree with it. What this means for this platform is that if what people talk about on the site leads to happiness for others they will see nothing wrong with what is said whether it's the truth or fiction. Though if it is discriminatory, or racist, or meant to antagonize either a group or everybody then they will be displeased and be against it. So their perspective will not see anything wrong with the app itself but how the users of the app use it. They would see true freedom of speech as a good thing upon people using it to create happiness and not anger. Though this will be difficult as there have been numerous accounts of racism, homophobia and antagonism already posted and spread about the application. This application was used to identify an armed assailant in a FBI office in Cincinnati. “Ricky Shiffer, had posted about the Mar-a-Lago search and told followers to “get whatever you need to be ready for combat.” The same account also appeared to confess to an attack on the F.B.I.”(NYTimes). Users like these would go against the utilitarian perspective through research done by Pew Research, which found some statistics on how users are being treated on the platform,
A large share of those who regularly get news on Truth Social (57%) say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the experience, while 25% are very or somewhat dissatisfied and the rest give a neutral assessment. Additionally, 59% of these news consumers say the discussions they see on the site are mostly friendly, while 16% see mostly unfriendly discussions and 25% say they see about an equal mix of friendly and unfriendly discussions. (PewResearch)
These statistics would help a utilitarian to decide whether they agree with the existence of this social network platform or not. Based on these statistics, 41% of consumers are seeing unfriendly discussions so this would go against a utilitarian belief. If that number was zero or at least a lower percent they would probably find this site to be okay and follow their beliefs. That percentage is too high and they would not agree with this even though a majority of users are seeing positive and friendly results.
A Kantian thinker would see this site as immoral. The reason for this is because the site does not even try and limit what a person can say or act. People will act in a way that will be immoral to a Kantian thinker. The Kantian Ethics follow very set rules at a moral level to always act rationally. What this means is that they believe all humans have an inherent worth of respect, dignity, and morality. Kantians believe that you should always act in the most rational way and do what is right even if there are negative consequences. But true freedom of speech does not follow this moral because humans by nature are liars. What's worse is that there are people lying and being extremely mean on the internet, the internet brings out the worst in humanity. People are more likely to be rude, mean, and act immoral when they believe that there are no consequences for their actions and that they can do it anonymously. Especially on a social media platform that is all about letting people have free reign and doing and saying as they please. People act in an extremely immoral way when they see no consequences to their actions. The categorical imperative formula of humanity is to “act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Kant429). Most humans do not act in this way though, which is why this site will bring out the worst in people and likely become what Twitter used to be before they started to monitor what can and cannot be said on their site. It will become a mosh pit of the internet's very worst and just spiral into madness. This is exactly what the Kantian perspective wants to avoid and is the reason they will not like this social media platform.
A virtue theorist would view Truth Social as bad and against their beliefs because Virtue Theory is an ethical mindset that you shouldn’t focus on the rules of the world but on what kind of people we should be, and what ethical examples we should copy. Someone who follows this ethical view before partaking in a particular activity or behavior would more than likely ask themselves whether someone who's engaging in this activity is manifesting appropriate virtues or character traits, is this something a kind, brave, generous, or compassionate person would do? A virtue theorist would view this platform as wrong because the internet is already filled with liars and bad behaviors and now that the lies won’t be stopped or removed it will be difficult to tell the difference between truth and lies. When we lie we create a behavior of lying and that can turn into a habit. The internet makes it easy to do this and turn good honest people into liars for attention or any number of reasons. The virtue theory is all about repetition, to repeat good activities and avoid bad ones.
Truth Social User Friendly
Through repetition, we acquire the habit of truth-telling. This gives special significance to individual actions. The problem with telling a lie is not (as a utilitarian would say) the damage that it does, nor (as a Kantian would say) the fact that lying amounts to disrespecting someone, but rather that in telling a lie we are likely acting in a way that we do not think is worthy of imitation, and we are contributing to the process of building ourselves into liars (concise Encyclopedia).
So when somebody repeatedly tells lies they are more likely to lie and to think it is acceptable. So when there are 1.7 million users on a site that has said that they will not limit speech and stop lies and false information than a virtue theorist will see it as an evil construction and not use it.
JUSTIFICATIED ETHICS EVALUATION
In my opinion the actions and decisions made by this company to make the site completely under the rules of free speech is completely ethical. The site itself and the ideology of it do go against some of the ethical beliefs but to be able to completely follow all four ethical beliefs is very difficult. I do believe that most of the reason why the social media platform fails to be ethical is not the site itself but the people who use the platform. They fail to follow ethical beliefs. The right to free speech is ethical because people should not be limited by their personal beliefs and political views. Everyone should be allowed to say what they believe under the presumption that it is the truth. The fault of this platform is that it incites liars and misinformation like the onion. This site is just 4chan but for politicians and marketed towards conservatives. People may think that they are unethical because of what is said on the sites by the users but the platform in what it is going for is ethical.
This site would be considered ethical by all four ethics beliefs if humans were not liars and said harmful things and if people could think in a way that would be kind and nice to everybody. It is not the site that is unethical, it is the user base. To quote Robert Wright, "We are far from the only dishonest species, but we are surely the most dishonest, if only because we do the most talking." (ABC.Net) We as humans like to lie and hurt others. This is why I view the people of this site as unethical and not the concept or the site as unethical.
Truth Social, is a platform that was created by Donald J. Trump and it is being used primarily by conservatives, a majority of the users have a positive experience with the platform. The platform is marketed toward conservatives because they are the ones who are affected the most by how other social media platforms censor what is said and how these platforms delete messages or ban members for saying racist, homophobic, transphobic or spreading misinformation. This platform has marketed that they will do none of these things and that you as an individual can say whatever your heart desires. If you wish to lie and spread misinformation, you can. If you wish to be racist, you can, the site will not stop you. The flaw of this site is that they are having financial issues and by most ethical beliefs the users themselves are unethical. This site and its beliefs are not viewed as being unethical. This platform has had one of the fastest growths among social media platforms in recent years and it had a total of 1.7 million unique users access the site in September. This was before Android users had access to the social media platform who make up 40% of US residences. With a greater number of possible users now the site is likely to continue growing and will likely be a platform of free speech with no limitation as long as they can figure out how to gain financial stability.
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