It took only a few hours for pranksters to find and deface a test version of former President Trump’s yet-to-launch social media platform called TRUTH Social. According to The Washington Post, someone signed up for an account on the test website, took the username “donaldjtrump” and posted a photo of a defecating pig.
Trump and his team recently announced that they’re launching TRUTH Social in early 2022 and that beta tests will begin in November. In its announcement, the team said that the platform is part of its efforts to fight against “the Big Tech companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.”
The test website has already been pulled down, but not before one of the publication’s reporters was able to sign up under the name “mikepence” without encountering any safeguards that would prevent them from doing so. Based on the mock photos on its App Store listing, TRUTH Social looks like a Twitter clone, where users can post “Truths”similar to tweets and repost “Re-Truths,” which are basically retweets. It has a news feed called the Truth Feed and a notification system, as well.
The website’s code shows that it runs on a mostly unmodified version of open source software Mastodon, The Post says. Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko told Vice that the platform might be violating its licensing rules, since it requires developers to share any modification with the public and to give credit by linking to the original source code. The test website didn’t just reveal TRUTH Social’s code, though, but also its terms of service. A sub-section in the ToS shows that the website hopes to be protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Part of the ToS reads: “[W]e are not responsible for any Third-Party Websites accessed through the Site or any Third-Party Content posted on, available through, or installed from the Site, including the content, accuracy, offensiveness, opinions, reliability, privacy practices, or other policies of or contained in the Third-Party Websites or the Third-Party Content.”
Trump has been a very vocal critic of Section 230. In 2020, he signed an executive order meant to limit its scope shortly after Twitter fact-checked a false tweet he made. The order was never meaningfully imposed, but President Biden revoked it completely back in May.
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