Former President Donald Trump’s not-yet-launched social media site could have its software license revoked in 30 days if it does not make its source code public, Mastodon warned in a Friday blog post.
Trump announced his new social media site, Truth Social, last week, touting the platform as a new beacon of free expression online. Truth Social’s terms of service state that “all” of its source code is its “sole property,” but users quickly noticed that the site was clearly using Mastodon code.
Mastodon is an open source social media framework that aims to empower people to build online platforms without relying on big tech. However, its AGPLv3 license requires users to make the source code and any modifications public. In Friday’s blog post, Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko said his company warned Truth Social that its license could be permanently revoked within a month if it failed to meet this requirement.
“On October 26, we sent an official letter to the General Counsel of Truth Social, requesting that the source code be made public in accordance with the license. According to AGPLv3, after being notified by the copyright holder, Truth Social has 30 days to comply or the license can be revoked permanently, ”Rochko wrote.
The founder also said he and his company were unhappy that Trump’s new platform used their code.
“When it comes to personal feelings, of course, we would prefer that people so antithetical to our values not use and benefit from our work, but the reality of working on free software is that you give up the possibility. to choose who can and can’t use it up front, so in a practical sense the only problem we can have with something like Truth Social is if they don’t even comply with the free software license under which we publish our work, ”he wrote.
Truth Social is the first project of the brand new Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG). It aims to be an alternative to traditional social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which banned Trump following his supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan.6.
Rochko shared a copy of Mastodon’s letter to Truth Social’s attorney with Motherboard, who released an excerpt from it on Friday.
“Based on public reports, we understand that Truth Social used Mastodon’s source code to develop its platform and that users were able to connect to the platform through a network. Accordingly, under the AGPL, Truth Social is required to make its full source code available. . We ask Truth Social to comply with this important license condition, “the letter said.” If you have any questions regarding Mastodon or the AGPL, please do not hesitate to contact us, “he continued.
News week has contacted Trump’s press office and TMTG press representatives for comment.
In a lengthy statement released earlier this week on the TMTG website, Trump said Truth Social is “just the beginning” of what the new company will do. The former president complained that “censorship” was a major problem on sites like Facebook and Twitter. He said he decided to launch the site because he “realized” that he “could be the only person in America with the megaphone, the resources, the experience and the desire to do it all.”
Although Trump and many Republicans claim that Facebook and Twitter censor and suppress conservative voices on their platforms, the data actually shows that right-wing content is more popular than left-wing content. Some conservatives, like Trump, have been banned from sites after repeated violations of their terms of service.
Several other similar sites — promoting themselves as opposed to censorship — have been launched with some success. These include Parler, Gettr, and Gab, but none have yet grown enough to compete with the big social media giants.