Why Trump’s social media platform may be doomed from the start: attorney

Why Trump’s social media platform may be doomed from the start: attorney

In right-wing media, former President Donald Trump's Truth Social has been hyped as the conservative social media platform that would be a counterbalance to the "liberal bias" of Twitter and Facebook (neither of which, truth be told, have a bias for anything other than turning huge profits). But San Diego-based attorney Chris Truax, in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on October 29, explains why Trump — because of a problem with the Mastodon platform — may have doomed Truth Social.

"This is Trump's second bite at the apple," Truax explains. "His first 'social media' venture debuted last June and was essentially a blog. It lasted a total of 29 days. In a fit of acute embarrassment, Trump finally demanded it be switched off, because it was getting fewer hits than Petfinder. But Truth Social is supposed to be the real deal, meant to rival not just Facebook and Twitter, but eventually, Amazon and even Stripe. Seriously."

Truax goes on to explain, however, why misusing the Mastodon platform could spell trouble for Truth Social and the company that operates it: Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG).

Mastodon, Truax notes, is what is known as "open-source software" in the tech world; it's free, provided that one adheres to its rules.

"Open-source software is designed to be easy to use," Truax observes. "You can install it and use it right out of the box if you want, which is what most people do…. A lot of open-source software is made available under what is known as a 'copyleft' license. The terms are simple: You are free to use the software for any purpose."

Truax continues, "However, you cannot claim ownership in the software. And if you fork it, you must put the new version of the software — including the parts you developed — in the public domain and make the source code freely available. Mastodon, the software Trump is using to create Truth Social, uses just such a license. So, (Trump Media and Technology Group) can't claim any ownership in Truth Social. And yet, that's exactly what Truth Social does in its terms and conditions. To make matters worse, Truth Social — despite multiple requests — is refusing to publish its source code."

According to Truax, "These actions are direct violations of the Mastodon license. And the terms of the license specify that if (Trump Media and Technology Group) fails to correct these problems within 30 days, it will automatically and permanently lose all rights to use the software. Meaning that Truth Social would have no network, no code base, no product — nothing but a brand name, actually."

Truax acknowledges that Trump Media and Technology Group "may still salvage this mess somehow" but goes on say, "I wouldn't bet on it."

"Sooner or later, everything Trump touches, dies," Truax writes. "And Truth Social is clearly no exception."

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