Media

Trump's Truth Social barred from Google Play store over content moderation concerns

Key Points
  • Donald Trump's Truth Social is not available on the Google Play store.
  • The restriction means that 44% of smartphone users in the U.S. cannot download the app.
  • Google says that the app violates the Play store's standards for content moderation, according to Axios.

In this article

Donald Trump's social media app "Truth Social" in Apple's App Store on an iPhone 12.
Christoph Dernbach | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Truth Social, the would-be Twitter competitor created by Trump Media and Technology Group, remains unavailable on the Google Play store.

Google said the app lacks effective systems for moderating user-generated content, which violates the store's terms of service.

"On Aug. 19, we notified Truth Social of several violations of standard policies in their current app submission and reiterated that having effective systems for moderating user-generated content is a condition of our terms of service for any app to go live on Google Play," the tech company, which is owned by Alphabet, told CNBC in a statement Tuesday.

Axios first reported the Google statement.

The restriction means that Android users, who make up 44% of smartphone users in the U.S., can't download the app. Google will not let the app go live until the content issues are addressed. Truth Social acknowledged Google's concerns and said it would work on addressing these issues, according to Axios.

Trump Media and Technology Group CEO Devin Nunes told a different story. The former lawmaker, who was one of former President Donald Trump's staunchest allies in Congress, said the decision is up to Google and not dependent on Truth Social's policies.

"When are we going to be available on Android? Well, look, that's up to the Google Play store. We're waiting on them to approve us, I don't know what's taking so long," Nunes said on the "Just the News Not Noise" podcast. "It sure would be nice if they would approve us."

Google said that Nunes' statements misrepresent the ongoing dialogue between Trump Media and the Play store. Google reiterated that Truth Social's violations, and the steps to redress them, have been clearly communicated with the company.

Trump Media pushed back, saying Truth Social was creating a "vibrant, family-friendly environment."

"TMTG has no desire to litigate its business matters in the public sphere, but for the record, has promptly responded to all inquiries from Google," the company said in a press release Tuesday. "It is our belief that all Americans should have access to Truth Social no matter what devices they use. We look forward to Google approving Truth Social at their earliest convenience."

Trump Media and Technology Group made the app available for preorder on Android in early August. It is available on Apple's App Store. Google's YouTube has suspended Trump's channel. Android users can still access Truth Social through the platform's website.

The restriction is one of several obstacles faced by the former president's app. Truth Social was created as a "free-speech" alternative to Twitter, after Trump was banned from the platform for his tweets relating to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Hundreds of the president's supporters stormed the building that day to try to block Congress from confirming Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump, who had about 88 million followers on Twitter, has about 4 million followers on Truth Social, where he continues to push false claims about the election. He is facing a criminal investigation over secret government records he took with him to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida and is considering another run for the White House.

Trump Media was set to go public through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corporation, a special-purpose acquisition company. The deadline is Sept. 8, although DWAC is pushing for a delay of up to a year. DWAC warned shareholders that a decline in the former president's popularity could hurt the app and that, without a delay, the acquisition company may have to liquidate.

DWAC scheduled a shareholder meeting for Sept. 6, two days before the current merger deadline. Shares of the company were down more than 2% Tuesday at $24.65, far from their peak of about $97 in March.