Former President Donald Trump’s new social network might fail to launch — all because it won’t abide by the terms laid out by the people who wrote its source code.
Mastodon, the open-source platform that TRUTH Social is using, announced on its website that it’s giving the social network 30 days to comply with its license before it permanently revokes it. Mastodon says it sent a formal letter on Oct. 26 to TRUTH Social’s chief legal officer requesting compliance.
A policy violation? From Trump? No way.
Last week, Trump announced a new business venture called Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG). The organization’s first product: TRUTH Social, a social media platform meant to compete with Facebook and Twitter, which banned the former president in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6.
While the current plan is to publicly launch a beta version of TRUTH Social in November, a slew of trolls discovered an unprotected sign-up form for the unreleased social network hours after the announcement. The trolls registered available usernames like @DonaldJTrump and @MikePence and defaced the profiles by posting meme pictures such as Pig Poop Balls.
While TMTG shut down the accounts later that same night, this was just the beginning of its problems.
TRUTH Social’s earliest “unofficial” users noticed that TRUTH Social is actually built on an open-source social networking platform called Mastodon. Anyone can download Mastodon’s code, which is developed by volunteers, at no-charge and create their own social platform using it.
However, when using open-source software like Mastodon, you are bound to its licensing terms. Users quickly discovered that Trump’s social network was violating that license.
TRUTH Social’s terms of service claim that it is “proprietary property” and all the source code is owned, controlled, or licensed to them. There is no mention of Mastodon or links to its source code. These credits are included in Mastodon by default, meaning TRUTH Social went out of its way to remove them.
Mastodon’s publishes its source code for free under an AGPLv3 license. It requires that when a developer uses Mastodon and modifies parts of it to create its own custom version, it must publish the source code with all of the modifications included. And that brings us to another issue: TRUTH Social does not provide its source code. According to ZDNet, the social network has been ignoring requests for its source code.
So will Trump’s team comply with Mastodon’s requests? Or will TRUTH Social somehow last even less time than Trump’s blog, which was shut down after just one month? Maybe TMTG will hire a developer team to recreate TRUTH Social from scratch?
We’ll find out TRUTH Social’s fate in approximately one month.
But, one thing is for certain. Trump has already made a ton of money from his social network.
In a press release last week, TMTG announced it was merging with publicly-traded SPAC Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC). SPACs are basically shell corporations listed on the stock exchange with the intent to acquire or partner with a company in order to provide it with a stock listing. The merger valued TMTG at $875 million. The day after the press release, DWAC stock spiked by more than 500 percent.
It looks like you can make a ton of money off open-source software, at least if you’re Donald Trump.