Aug 30, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Truth Social's Google Play Store holdup

Illustration of an angry facebook emoji that resembles Donald Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Google hasn't yet approved Truth Social's Android app for distribution via its Play Store because of insufficient content moderation, a Google spokesperson tells Axios.

Driving the news: Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes last week claimed the decision about when the app would be available on Android "is up to Google," but Google insists that the ball is in Truth Social's court.

What Nunes is saying: "I don't know what's taking them so long."

What Google is saying: “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."

  • "Last week Truth Social wrote back acknowledging our feedback and saying that they are working on addressing these issues.”

Details: A source says that Google's concerns relate to content such as physical threats and incitements to violence.

  • Truth Social does have "sensitive content" banners that appear before some posts that read "This content may not be suitable for all audiences," but content that threatens violence remains on the platform.
  • For example, in response to a post from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, an account called "TheVictim24" posted last week, "It's be nice if you people weren't just okay with the military and police stage a rebellion and framing civilians. Zero people trust the police and if the military comes in, we'll kill them. Someone admit this nation needs to be nuked because it's satanic."
  • That post wasn't labeled.

Workaround: Truth Social could offer Android users a version of its app via its website or other channels — an option not available to developers on Apple's iOS mobile operating system — but the company has not done so.

The big picture: Truth Social's technological challenges come amid broader financial and legal disputes.

  • The company owes one of its tech vendors over $1.6 million, Axios has confirmed, and the blank-check company looking to merge with it and take it public is under investigation by federal securities regulators.

Be smart: Google and other tech platforms have reason to proceed carefully with Trump's new app.

  • Last year, many platforms banned Trump along with some right-wing apps and personalities, following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
  • Google pulled Parler, a social media app for conservatives, from its Play Store at that time, citing moderation issues. Parler still appears to be banned from the Play Store.

The bottom line: Because Truth Social isn't available on Android operating systems, around 44% of U.S. smartphone users can't download it.

Go deeper: Truth's Social's financial troubles

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