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Google is now distributing Truth Social, Trump's Twitter alternative

Google announced late Wednesday that it would permit the Trump-backed social media site Truth Social to be downloaded through its app store, making the service available to millions of new users.
Mary Altaffer
Google announced late Wednesday that it would permit the Trump-backed social media site Truth Social to be downloaded through its app store, making the service available to millions of new users.

Truth Social, the Twitter alternative backed by former President Donald Trump, is now available for download in the Google Play Store following months of being blocked over violent content.

Google's reversal indicates that it's now satisfied that Truth Social can follow its guidelines. In a statement, Google said Trump's app will remain accessible as long as it abides by rules "to effectively moderate user-generated content and remove objectionable posts such as those that incite violence."

On Truth Social, users compose "truths" much like tweets on Twitter. The platform is dominated by right-wing and conservative voices, with views that can quickly veer into conspiratorial territory.

For months, the app has been available to download on iPhones and other Apple devices, but its appearance on Androids is a significant victory. Google's operating system supports some 70% of smartphones worldwide. In the U.S., where iPhones dominate, about 44% of devices are Androids, according to market research firm StatCounter.

While there are some ways to circumvent app stores, Google and Apple hold gatekeeper power over what apps people can download onto their smartphones.

"With its inclusion in the Google Play Store, Truth Social can now be accessed across all devices in the United States," said Devin Nunes, CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, in statement. "Today marks a significant milestone in our mission to restore free speech online."

In August, Google said it would not distribute Truth Social on its app store until the platform took down posts that incite violence. The tech giant said the app lacked a system for policing the sort of content that violates Google's terms of service.

Google does not allow apps that contain posts that promote violence or incite hatred against individuals and groups, according to its content guidelines. In addition, Google bans apps that allow posts containing misleading health claims about things like vaccines and conversion therapy.

It is unclear what exactly has changed about Truth Social since August.

Trump and his allies have promoted Truth Social with mixed success since the former president was banned from major social media sites following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Upon its launch, Truth Social was one of the most downloaded free apps in Apple's App Store, but interest has since declined.

Problems plague Truth Social's parent company

Meanwhile, a special purpose acquisition company, also known as a SPAC, called Digital World Acquisition Corp., that is attempting to merge with Trump's social media company continues to be plagued with investigations from regulators that may completely undo the deal.

The merger now faces a Dec. 8 deadline to complete its stock market listing. If it is not met, Digital World is set to liquidate.

The SPAC has been trying to gain the support of stockholders to extend the timeline to finalize the merger, but it so far has not done so.

While Digital World landed some $1 billion in commitments, some investors have in recent weeks been spooked by the company's misfortunes. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last month, the company said investors have pulled nearly $139 million out.

Trump, who is under increasing legal pressure by state and federal prosecutors and lawmakers in Washington, has publicly suggested that he might run for president again in 2024.

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Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.