Then there’s the Mastodon code. As Truth Social was developing in 2021, the Software Freedom Conservancy accused it of violating the free and open source license agreement for Mastodon’s code. Anyone can use Mastodon’s code, but they must publicly disclose the source code. Truth Social called its code “proprietary,” which violated the license agreement. It later quietly added an open source section to its website, accepting open source code from Mastodon.
Along with its growth, Truth Social is facing a financial crisis: Another $ 1.3 billion is involved in the partnership between Trump Media and Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, and Digital World Acquisition Corp. Prosecutors and federal regulators are investigating the deal, which could push Digital World into liquidation and financial restructuring. The clock was approaching the December 8 deadline for a merger, but the owners of Digital World voted on November 22 to delay the merger until 2023. Trump Media has also said that it is looking for a merger with social networks Rumble and Parler.
That’s the kind of problem Mastodon can avoid. It is based on the ideal of decentralization, meaning that it cannot be bought and run by one person because the network consists of more than 7,700 independent servers. Mastodon has grown exponentially since Musk bought Twitter, and now has 2.4 million monthly users, up from 381,000 the day the deal closed.
Truth Social is not removed, and boasts many celebrities but revolves around Trump and his brand. (He has 4.6 million followers on the platform.) The Trump Media and Technology Group did not respond to a request for comment on the site’s growth, how it has evolved amid recent events, or whether Trump will return to Twitter.
Trump is interested in representing Social Truth, so his reluctance to return to Twitter when Musk first bought the platform and floated the idea was understandable. But now that he’s running for president in 2024, it could be difficult and damaging for Trump to resist the 88 million followers he has on Twitter, compared to less than 5 million on Truth Social. However, they are not far away, for now. “I feel like we’re voting overwhelmingly to get back on Twitter,” Trump said Saturday. “I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason.”
Trump also reportedly has an agreement with Truth Social that requires him to post most of his posts there for eight hours before they appear on other networks. (There are some exceptions related to political messages, fundraising, and voter turnout.)
Most people who use other platforms like Truth Social still get information from giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, according to a Pew study. Like Mastodon users, who signed up when they were tired of seeing how Twitter could change, Truth Social users can add to their social network instead of taking over Twitter. But it’s a place to go for fake news, or, as a place to watch what Trump hasn’t filtered. After US government agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August, downloads of the Truth Social app increased fivefold.
Not even Mastodon or Truth Social can compete with Twitter. And Mr. Trump is still unclear about his plans for the bird sanctuary he once called home. As Musk asked on Twitter on November 19, asking if he would restore Trump’s account, the former president shared on Truth Social. “Vote now with positivity, but don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere,” he wrote. “Truth Social is unique!”