Truth Social, the so-called anti-Big Tech, pro-free speech social media platform launched by Donald Trump, has already gone dark. It’s not because of hackers, either. It’s because the former president’s company allegedly violated the terms of its software agreement.
The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) is calling out former President Trump’s new social media network, claiming that the company violated the rules of a free and open-source software licensing agreement, The Verge reported Friday. The SFC, a nonprofit organization that enforces these kinds of licenses, gave the network 30 days to comply with the terms or it will lose all rights to use the software.
According to software developer and SFC policy fellow Bradley M. Kuhn, the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) broke the licensing agreement for an open-source software platform called Mastodon when it launched “a so-called ‘test site'” of its Truth Social product, which was built using Mastodon software. Although any company can use the code from Mastodon, according to the licensing agreement (AGPLv3), each user of the software must receive “an opportunity to receive the entire Corresponding Source for the website based on that code.” Early users of Truth Social, Kuhn alleged, did not get the source code, and TMTG is “currently ignoring their very public requests for it.”
“Today, we saw the Trump Media and Technology Group ignoring those important rules — which were designed for the social good,” Bradley M. Kuhn wrote on SFC’s blog Thursday. “Once caught in the act, Trump’s Group scrambled and took the site down.”
If TMTG does not make the Corresponding Source available to every user who logged onto the site during its brief uptime, Kuhn said, “their rights and permissions in the software are automatically and permanently terminated.”
“That’s how AGPLv3’s cure provision works — no exceptions — even if you’re a real estate mogul, reality television star, or even a former POTUS,” he wrote.
Trump launched Truth Social along with TMTG on Wednesday to compete with the Big Tech social media networks that banned him from their services when he incited violence on Jan. 6. The network is meant to be “a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the ‘Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America,” the company said in a release. According to The Verge, Truth Social’s developers tried to hide obvious signs that they were using Mastodon software, and TMTG even called the service “proprietary,” but it’s clear in the HTML coding and look of the site that it’s using Mastodon’s open-source code.
Even if Truth Social were still live, this news likely wouldn’t be allowed on the site. The platform’s terms of service state that users are not permitted to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.”