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Former President Donald Trump's new social network appears to have lifted code without attribution to Mastodon, and the open-source social network software company may be gearing up to sue.
Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko said screenshots of the TRUTH social app's open-source code, shared after a series of trolls and hackers gained access to the platform before its November 2021 release date, revealed an apparent violation of the company's requirement that customers share the code and copies of the general product license to users. Rochko indicated Mastodon may sue over the alleged breach.
"I do intend to seek legal counsel on the situation, though," he told Talking Points Memo Thursday. "Compliance with our AGPLv3 license is very important to me, as that is the sole basis upon which I and other developers are willing to give away years of work for free."
Mastodon alluded to the resemblance between TRUTH Social's code and its own, with the company tweeting it "looks familiar."
Well that looks familiar 😬
— Mastodon 🐘 (@joinmastodon) October 21, 2021
"Based on the screenshots I have seen, it absolutely is based on Mastodon," Rochko told Motherboard.
Rochko cited a screenshot of TRUTH Social's error message, which resembled the software's error message. Other screenshots mentioned the company in the website's HTML.
The TRUTH Social terms of service claim its website code is "proprietary property," a statement contrary to Mastodon's software policy. The open-source company operates under an AGPLv3 license, which allows the code to be modified and used commercially so long as developers share any modifications and link to the software's source code.
Mastodon is a piece of software that people use to create their own open-source Twitter. Users can take the software and create their own "fork," or separate network. While some users have created their private social networks different from Twitter or Facebook, the software has also been used by Gab, a right-leaning social network, since 2019.
"Mastodon is completely opposed to Gab's project and philosophy, which seeks to monetize and platform racist content while hiding behind the banner of free speech," said Mastodon in a 2019 statement. "Mastodon remains committed to standing up against hate speech; for example, our new server covenant means we only list servers on joinmastodon.org that are committed to active moderation against racism, sexism, and transphobia."
Trump announced on Wednesday he would create TRUTH Social through his new company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, to "stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech." The company began by releasing TRUTH Social and intends to expand into other media ventures.
Ever since the former president was de-platformed from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites for his words and actions preceding the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill attack, Trump has railed against Big Tech, arguing the platforms censored him. Trump sued to get his Twitter and Facebook accounts reinstated in early October, and he brought a class-action lawsuit in July alleging censorship.
Representatives for Mastodon and the Trump Media & Technology Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Original Author: Christopher Hutton