By Helen Coster
(Reuters) -Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social has not yet been approved for distribution on Alphabet Inc’s Google Play Store due to insufficient content moderation, according to a Google spokesperson on Tuesday.
The delay marks a setback for the app, which launched in the Apple App Store on Feb. 21. Android phones comprise about 40% of the U.S. smartphone market. Without the Google and Apple stores, there is no easy way for most smartphone users to download Truth Social.
“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 said in a statement.
Google said it has expressed concerns to Truth Social about violations of its Play Store policies prohibiting content like physical threats and incitement to violence. Truth Social parent company Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment, but in a press release said that it 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.”
It added: “Moreover, some of our competitors’ apps are allowed in the Google Play Store despite rampantly violating Google’s prohibition on sexual content and other policies, whereas Truth Social has zero tolerance for sexually explicit content.”
News of the Android delay was first reported by Axios.
Truth Social restored Trump’s presence on social media more than a year after he was banned from Twitter Inc, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube following the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots, after he was accused of posting messages inciting violence.
TMTG has pledged to deliver an “engaging and censorship-free experience” on Truth Social, appealing to a base that feels its views around such hot-button topics such as the outcome of the 2020 presidential election have been scrubbed from mainstream tech platforms.
(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Nick Zieminski)