Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
When Donald Trump rolled out his brand new social media platform for deplorables, TRUTH Media, the clock started ticking on how soon it would crash and burn like Parler, Gab and other deplorable alternatives to Twitter.
TRUTH Media got off to a bumpy start when Wall Street investors discovered that they were actually investing in TRUTH Media's parent company, Trump Media and Technology Group. Most of Trump Media's funding came from Digital World, a special purpose acquisition company created with the purpose of acquiring an already-existing private company, thus taking the private company public. The investors in a SPAC don't know the identity of their target—and at least one investor has already decided to head for the exits after finding out he was bankrolling Trump.
But Trump might have been able to survive that. However, in the last 24 hours, a development has come to light that might be harder for him to weather. It seems that he lifted the code for TRUTH Media without properly crediting the code's author. And the author is already making noises about taking Trump to court.
TRUTH Media claims to be built on "proprietary" source code. But Gizmodo's Lucas Ropek noticed that a number of early users of TRUTH Media discovered unmistakable similarities between TRUTH Media's code and that of the open-source social media platform Mastodon.
According to Vice, one of those early users, Mikael Thalen of Daily Dot, tweeted a screenshot of a parody Trump account he created. Mastodon's official Twitter couldn't help but notice the similarities.
Later, another user tweeted out a screenshot of the raw code that amounted to a smoking gun.
In and of itself, this isn't a problem. Mastodon has an extremely lenient open source policy which allows users to modify Mastodon's code for their own purposes—provided that they give credit to Mastodon and make their forked code available for public inspection. Trump didn't do any of this.
Mastodon founder and lead developer Eugen Rochko told Vice that based on the screenshots he's seen floating around social media, Truth Social "absolutely is based on Mastodon"—and its claims to be based on proprietary software when it really isn't would amount to "a license violation." He even discovered another smoking gun—a 404 page using Mastodon's mascot.
Rochko told Talking Points Memo that he is seeking legal counsel on the matter. If he does sue, Trump wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Claiming that his site's code is proprietary despite overwhelming evidence that it isn't? Did he seriously think no one would sniff this out? Suffice to say that if Rochko does take Trump to court, he could really draw blood.
I initially thought that Truth Social would be taken down when its users inevitably threaten violence, leading it to be booted off Apple and Android and effectively rendering it impotent. But it's possible that something as simple as stolen code could potentially add this to the long list of failed Trump ventures. Pass the popcorn.Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 · 11:21:52 AM PST · Darrell Lucus
MindMatter mentioned in the comments that Trump could face another potential headache. If the SPAC's investors were told the software was proprietary rather than a Mastodon fork, that's securities fraud.
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Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) recently shed light on the damaging effects of Fox News host Tucker Carlson's rhetoric. The Democratic lawmaker took to Twitter with an audio clip of a Trump supporter attacking him for his remarks praising the U.S. Capitol Police officer who killed Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt.
With the disturbing audio clip, Swalwell discussed what he describes as "the Tucker Carlson effect. "Listen to this. It's the Tucker Carlson effect," Swalwell explained. "Tucker attacks me. His fans respond with threats to kill my family. And Tucker knows exactly what he's doing."
The unnamed man leveled a disturbing verbal attack toward the California lawmaker in a lethal, racist rant. "Here's some intelligence motherfucker. They just showed you on Fox News on Tucker Carlson saying Babbitt, that unarmed veteran, that white woman that was shot by a cop... You said he was a brave officer shooting a serious threat. He was a coward bitch who shot an unarmed white woman. If she would have been some black nigger crackhead, you guys have had that cop's head on a stick."
"You people are a disgrace to God, our country, and our people. You are the enemies of the United States people, motherfucker. You atheist, Communist faggots are the threat to our democracy, our Constitution, and our way of life," he said.
The irate man went on and seemed to level a threat toward Swalwell and his family as he concluded with praises to former President Donald Trump. He added, "As for these foreign invaders you're lettin' into this country, I hope they chop you, your family up and feed them to their dogs. You did you fucking bitch. There's your free speech for today, asshole, from Trump Nation!"
Almost immediately after Swalwell shared the audio clip, Twitter users quickly sounded off. With a link to a similar case, former federal prosecutor Chris Alberto quickly noted that these types of verbal threats are considered a violation of federal law.
"These threats against Mr. Swalwell & his family violates federal law," Alberto wrote. "The [FBI] should visit this guy ASAP. While expressing disagreement and nonviolent dissent are protected speech, threats of violence fall into the scope of federal criminal statutes."
Others also weighed in with their concerns.
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Reprinted with permission AlternetDuring the lame duck period that followed the United States' 2020 presidential election — after now-President Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump and before Biden's Electoral College victory was affirmed by Congress on January 6 — far-right MAGA Republican and Trump attorney John C. Eastman offered a disturbing memo for overturning the election results.
Eastman discussed his memo during a recent interview with the conservative National Review, and election law expert Rick Hasen views that interview as "signs" that Eastman now wants to "distance himself" from his late December/early January strategy.
The National Review's John McCormack explains,
The two-page memo written by Eastman proposed that (then-Vice President Mike) Pence reject certified Electoral College votes and then either declare Trump the winner or invalidate enough votes to send the election to the House of Representatives, where Republicans controlled a majority of delegations. That memo was first published in September in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's book 'Peril.' The issue here is that Eastman says the Eastman memo does not accurately represent Eastman's own views or legal advice to Pence or Trump, claiming that the two-page version published in 'Peril' was preliminary and a final version presented various scenarios intended for internal discussion.
Hasen quotes McCormack's article extensively on his Election Law Blog, describing the interview as "signs that Eastman is getting increasingly desperate to distance himself from his false claims that the election was stolen from Trump and that VP Pence could unilaterally steal it back for him when Congress was supposed to confirm the Electoral College votes."
McCormack writes that Eastman "now tells National Review, in an interview, that the first of the two strategies Giuliani highlighted on stage — having Pence reject electoral votes — was not 'viable' and would have been 'crazy' to pursue. What makes that admission remarkable is that Eastman was the author of the now-infamous legal memo making the case that Pence had that very power — that the vice president was the 'ultimate arbiter' of deciding whether to count Electoral College votes."
Eastman, according to McCormack, "says he disagrees with some major points in the two-page memo. That version says that Trump would be reelected if Pence invalidated enough electoral votes to send the election to the House of Representatives."
Eastman told the Review that his two-page memo — the one published in Woodward and Costa's "Peril" — was drafted on Christmas Eve 2020, followed by a final six-page memo on January 3. Eastman said, "I had been asked to put together a memo of all the available scenarios that had been floated. I was asked to kind of outline how each of those scenarios would work and then orally present my views on whether I thought they were valid or not. So, that's what those memos did."
Hasen, in a Twitter thread, wrote: