Google is drawing criticism for refusing to make former President Donald Trump’s social media app Truth Social available in its app store.
The app’s absence in the Google Play Store is a huge issue considering that Android phones make up about 44 percent of the U.S. smartphone market. Truth Social is available on Apple App Store since the platform was launched in February, and it is also available via web browser.
“On August 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,” Google told news outlets in a statement on Aug. 30.
Google added, “Last week Truth Social wrote back acknowledging our feedback and saying that they are working on addressing these issues.”
Trump Media & Technology Group, Truth Social’s parent company, said in a statement on Tuesday that it is still working on getting Google’s approval for the app, but emphasizes that it won’t sacrifice the platform’s founding principle of upholding free speech.
“TMTG has continuously worked in good faith with Google to ensure that the Truth Social Android App complies with Google's policies without compromising our promise to be a haven for free speech,” the company wrote.
It added, “As our users know, Truth Social is building a vibrant, family-friendly environment that works expeditiously to remove content that violates its Terms of Service—which independent observers have noted are among the most robust in the industry.”
On its website, Truth Social describes itself as “America’s ‘big tent’ social media platform that encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology.”
Google’s decision not to make Truth Social available for Android users was met with criticism on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Google is once again targeting and silencing conservative voices, this time by banning President Trump’s Truth Social from their Google Play Store,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wrote. “This is not acceptable.”
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, called Google's decision corruption.
“Leftists running @Google again provide material support to Biden, Democrats and Left by corruptly suppressing another alternative social media platform—Trump's Truth Social platform,” Fitton wrote.
Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT for America, gave her explanation of why Truth Social isn’t on Google Play Store.
“Truth Social was banned from Google Play because of its massive success,” Gabriel wrote. “When competition succeeds, big tech crushes it!”
Truth Social saw a surge in downloads after FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month. According to analytics firm Data AI, downloads of the Truth Social app skyrocketed by nearly 550 percent in the week after the FBI raid—the iOS app received 107,500 downloads with an average of 13,400 per day.
The former president has also seen a significant increase in the number of his Truth Social followers. On Aug. 7, Trump had about 3.7 million followers but that number has now surpassed 3.96 million.
Trump has been using his Truth Social account to communicate with his followers, particularly after the FBI raid. For instance, in a recent post, Trump said the raid was “done for political purposes just prior to the Midterm Elections (and 2024, of course!).”
“The Raid on my home, Mar-a-Lago, is one of the most egregious assaults on democracy in the history of our Country which is, by the way, going to places, in a very bad way,” Trump wrote on Aug. 27.
Devin Nunes, a former House lawmaker representing California’s 22nd Congressional District and current CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, expressed frustration at Google for not approving the app during an interview on Real Amerca’s Voice News on Aug. 26.
“When are we going to be available on Android?” Nunes said. “Well, look, that’s up to the Google Play Store. I mean, we’re waiting on them to approve us, and I don’t know what’s taking so long.”