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In Praise of Mastodon, Again

Earlier this year, in the wake of the attempted coup that happened right here, live, on TV, in these United States, I wrote a post praising how Mastodon handled the alt-right and Donald Trump. As I saw it, Mastodon’s swift action against the alt-right (specifically, their quick repudiation of Gab) was a very different approach than the corporate platform approach of Facebook and Twitter. Yes, the latter removed Trump. But they did so at a pretty convenient moment: after the election was over and the ad dollars were spent. Moreover, while banning Trump was a long-overdue move, it was clearly inadequate. As investigative journalism is revealing, Facebook in particular did little to quell the planning of the January 6 insurrection.

I come again to praise Mastodon. This time, for quickly addressing the problem of Trump’s new platform, Truth, which appears to be a fork (or simply CTRL+F and replace) of Mastodon’s code. That in itself is not the issue – after all, Mastodon is FOSS, and people can therefore take it and use it. The issue is that Trump is claiming to own the code.


Mastodon’s response – as well as that of the Software Freedom Conservancy – is to give Trump 30 days to quit claiming ownership of the code or be in violation of the license.

To my mind, this is like a powerful force hitting a very stupid object. It seems obvious that Trump will have to relinquish his claims that the code is proprietary.

Then again, Trump is notorious for doing things and then daring people to lawyer up, dragging his feet by using the courts. It’s clearly what he’s hoping to do with the January 6 investigation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does the same with Mastodon and the SFC.

But those are Trump’s flaws. Again, I come to praise Mastodon, once again, for showing nerve and a steel spine where corporations with a great deal more revenue, lobbying power, and users didn’t do in the first place: call Trump out on his bullshit.

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