Coding experts tell Salon Mike Lindell's botched social site was doomed to fail

One "grandmaster" in the content software Drupal describes Lindell's social platform as "not even student work"

Published April 23, 2021 5:50AM (EDT)

Mike Lindell | Broken Computer (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Mike Lindell | Broken Computer (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's social media site FRANK is facing ridicule from the community of "grandmasters" around the content management software Drupal, who say Lindell's site was destined to fail from the start because his developers failed to take "elementary" coding steps to limit attacks from outside forces. Since its supposed "VIP launch" last Thursday night, Lindell's platform has experienced numerous crashes, and at this writing on Thursday evening the site remains down. 

Drupal's site explains that its software is "used to make many of the websites and applications you use every day. Drupal has great standard features, like easy content authoring, reliable performance, and excellent security." Drupal is open source, meaning that anyone can download it or modify it as they please — but it helps if they know what they're doing. 

Speaking to Salon on Thursday afternoon about Lindell's site, one "Acquia Certified Drupal Grand Master," who oversees a technology firm that employs numerous other "grandmasters," said that Lindell's site was set up for failure from its inception, noting that its developers — whom Lindell compared to Navy SEALs — had failed to carry out basic "Drupal 101" tasks. 

One coder who spoke to Salon in great detail explained the potential shortcomings of the pillow maven's program code and the patchy work done by his developer team. "Drupal can power high powerful websites, sites with lots of traffic," the expert said, adding that it isn't the right software to build a social media site with, since it's not designed to handle a large amount of user-generated content. "Lindell's website was basically trying to make soup for scratch for everybody," said the expert, who claimed more than 25 years of experience in the IT field.

"In my professional opinion, it will be extremely unlikely, if not impossible, for Lindell to accomplish his vision with Drupal and his own servers," the expert told Salon. "Despite how much I love it, Drupal simply isn't the right tool for the number of users with the features that he wants to provide. It would take a massive effort of 12 to 18 months to build out the needed hosting setup and application architecture, and this would come with an enormous degree of risk. The idea that he could do this in just a couple of months is patently absurd, and I think the results speak for themselves."

The team of "grandmasters" were granted anonymity by Salon due to the sensitive nature of their employment and the risk of being doxxed by Lindell's supporters. 

"When I was looking at the code, in the browser, they basically launched the site while it was still in development mode," one expert told Salon, citing the fact that developers had failed to check a box to aggregate files on the platform as the first red flag he ran across. "Their files were not aggregated, and by the way, that's a check box in Drupal — you literally check a box and click save, My jaw dropped when I saw that. I was like, 'They did not try to launch this thing without aggregation turned on!'" 

The second major red flag another Drupal expert found was that Lindell's site was spitting out coded error messages to users, which leaves the platform vulnerable to attacks. "This is a shit show," the expert said, calling this an "obvious" issue that coders learn how to prevent in "Drupal 101." Other "grandmasters" poked fun at the developers' mistakes, which were described as "extremely obvious" and juvenile in nature. One expert concluded that, based on the evidence, Lindell's developer team was inexperienced and lacked basic knowledge, and described the output of the pillow magnate's alleged 10-person staff as "not even student work." 

Lindell did not respond to numerous requests for comment from Salon for this story. 

By Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo was an investigative reporter at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

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Drupal Mike Lindell Mypillow Reporting Social Media Tech