A test version of Donald Trump’s Twitter-like social network violated open-source licensing terms, according to the not-for-profit Software Freedom Conservancy.
The Software Freedom Conservancy, which enforces open-source software agreements, said Trump’s Truth Social website — launched by the newly formed Trump Media & Technology Group — failed to provide the source code to users, as specified in the Affero General Public License (AGPL), a “copyleft license” published by the Free Software Foundation.
Truth Social’s site was using the free, open-source Mastodon social networking software, which is governed by the AGPL. TMTG ignored the licensing terms and “once caught in the act, Trump’s Group scrambled and took the site down,” Bradley Kuhn, policy fellow and hacker-in-residence at Software Freedom Conservancy, wrote in a blog post Thursday.
To comply with the Mastodon software license, “Trump’s Group needs to immediately make that Corresponding Source [code] available to all who used the site today while it was live,” Kuhn continued. “If they fail to do this within 30 days, their rights and permissions in the software are automatically and permanently terminated.”
Reps for Trump’s TMTG did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
On Wednesday, Trump Media & Technology Group announced plans to launch a Truth Social app in beta on an invitation-only basis in November with a public rollout in the first quarter of 2022. TMTG said its mission is to “create 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.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s Truth Social site was immediately targeted by pranksters: Someone who signed up for an account with the username “donaldjtrump” posted a photo of a defecating pig site, the Washington Post reported. Truth Social is now accepting signups on a waitlist.
According to Kuhn, SFC found “no evidence that someone illegally broke into the website.” The Truth Social site “was simply deployed live early as a test, and without proper configuration,” he wrote. “Once discovered, people merely used the site legitimately to register accounts and use its features.”
The SFC’s allegations that TMTG violated open-source licensing guidelines was first reported by the Verge.
Trump was permanently banned by Twitter and suspended or blocked by all major internet platforms over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol during which he expressed support for rioters who were trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. This summer, the ex-president sued Facebook, Twitter and Google (and their CEOs) alleging they violated his First Amendment rights; however, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t prohibit private companies from restricting speech and internet services are allowed under U.S. law to remove harmful content.
TMTG plans to become a publicly traded entity through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. have shot up more than 800% since the announcement of plans to combine with Trump Media & Technology Group.