San Francisco, Oct 23 – Former US President Donald Trump’s new social network violated a free and open-source software licensing agreement by ripping off decentralised social network Mastodon, said the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC).
According to The Verge, the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) has 30 days to comply with the terms of the license before its access is terminated — forcing it to rebuild the platform or face legal action.
TMTG launched a special purpose acquisition company fundraising effort with promises to build a sweeping media empire, the report said.
Its only product so far is a social network called Truth Social that appears strongly to be forked from Mastodon, it added.
While anyone can freely reuse Mastodon’s code (and groups like right-wing social network Gab have already done so), they still have to comply with the Affero General Public License (or AGPLv3) that governs that code and its conditions include offering their source code to all users.
Truth Social doesn’t comply with that license and, in fact, refers to its service as “proprietary”, the report said.
Its developers apparently attempted to scrub references that would make the Mastodon connection clear — at one point listing a “sighting” of the Mastodon logo as a bug — but included direct references to Mastodon in the site’s underlying HTML alongside obvious visual similarities.
TMTG’s strategy has not sat well with the SFC, an organisation that enforces free and open-source software licenses.
Truth Social hasn’t officially launched. But users could access a test version of the platform, where many of them created prank accounts that flooded the service with false company announcements and even fake Donald Trump posts. (The platform has since been replaced by a waitlist.)
The SFC demands that TMTG offer all these users access to the Truth Social source code.