Former President Donald Trump’s new social media site — The Truth Social — appears to be based on computer code that was appropriated from another source and may well result in him getting smacked with a lawsuit, according to a report from Gizmodo:

Truth Social seems to have lifted its digital DNA directly from Mastodon, the open-source alternative social network known for its focus on user privacy and autonomy.

Similarities in the code were first spotted by early users of the platform, who noted front-end similarities between it and Mastodon. One user even took a screenshot of the HTML of Trump’s new site which shows explicit mention of Mastodon in the code.

While it isn’t unusual for sites to use Mastodon’s code to run their platforms, doing so requires that they abide by the company’s terms of service, and it appears Truth Social hasn’t followed that very simple rule:

Mastodon leases its software under something called an AGPLv3 license, which basically stipulates that users can use its code so long as they acknowledge where it came from and make the copied or modified code available for public inspection. However, in its own terms of service, Truth Social claims that “all source code” from its software is proprietary, essentially failing to mention that it lifted it from somewhere else.

Will Mastadon sue Trump and Truth Social for using their code without obeying the terms of service? Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko said he’s already working on hiring an attorney:

“I do intend to seek legal counsel on the situation. 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.

“I believe that as of this time Truth Social indeed seems to be using Mastodon code. If you look at these screenshots and compare them to any standard Mastodon installation it will be pretty obvious,”

What could all of this mean for the future of Truth Social? Probably that the site won’t be able to launch anytime soon, and even if it does, it would likely be tied up in court for years, meaning that Donald Trump would still be without a platform to spread his hatred, lies, and conspiracy theories. That alone is the very good news indeed.

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