TRUTH Social may not respect open source licenses

Doesn’t start out too well TRUTH Social, Donald Trump’s new social network, still under development and that, as we told you yesterday, was leaked after its official announcement, allowing some people to access the service (whose first beta phase is scheduled for November), creating parodic accounts. However, the joke did not last long (qualifying it as a hacking as I have seen in other media seems like an excess to me), since its managers blocked the accounts created by said users and disabled access through the web address that had been leaked.

However, and although what has captured the headlines has been precisely that, the accounts created impersonating the users that the network is expected to have once operational, the most interesting thing about the provisional access url being filtered is that as many users were able to dedicate themselves to analyzing TRUTH Social in depth. And when I say in depth, I mean to go beyond checking its enormous resemblance to Twitter, only with fewer features.

This, right from the start, aroused certain suspicions, as some of the elements of the TRUTH Social interface were familiar, which quickly aroused certain suspicions, which began to appear on Twitter. Some suspicions that were soon confirmed, when other users reviewed the code of the new social network, finding in it explicit references to Mastodon, an open source project that, effectively, allows you to create “clones” of Twitter.

So if we are talking about an open source project, what is the problem with TRUTH Social using it? Well, as we can read in Gizmodo, something that some users observed is that those responsible for TRUTH Social, at least at the point where the service is currently, would be in breach of the AGPL v3 license (Affero General Public License), and that obliges those who use that code to mention it specifically and that the developments made on it are kept under the same license or, at least, a similar one.

And, as these people saw when inspecting TRUTH Social, their managers, far from attributing the basis of the service to Mastodon, claim that all the code on which it is based is proprietary, that is, closed, and therefore violate the conditions raised by the creators of Mastodon who, to be honest, are quite generous.

The problem, as always happens in these cases, is that we meet in another David vs. Goliath case. The correct thing would be for those responsible for TRUTH Social to make the relevant changes, that is, to recognize that they use Mastodon as a base and, in addition, to release the code of the service. However, in case they decide to continue on the current path, the creators of Mastodon can be mired in very complex processes to claim their fair share.

Personally, I find that way of proceeding quite ugly. The development of projects like Mastodon supposes a lot of work for their creators, a work done altruistically and that only asks for recognition of their work and the support of the free software community, maintaining the same licenses in the developments that are based on it. Thus, if finally those responsible for TRUTH Social decide to maintain their current position, we will have a clear reason to point them out.

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