Trump’s Truth Social App, Self-Proclaimed Foe of Big Tech, Needs Apple and Google to Survive


With only a few weeks to go before the expected launch, Donald Trump’s new media venture is trying to strike a delicate balance with its app: to shore up Trump’s base without backtracking from Apple and Google’s App Store policies. giving freedom of expression.

launch of true social It comes a year after the former US President was banned Facebook, Twitter, And youtube, This will be a major test whether trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) and other tech companies that describe themselves as champions of free speech may scale with the gatekeepers of Silicon Valley, whom conservatives have accused of suppressing free expression.

TMTG promises an “engaging and censorship-free experience” on its Truth Social app, which appeals to a base that feels its views about such hot-button topics in American life as vaccines. and the results of the 2020 presidential election have been reconstructed. from mainstream tech platforms.

Yet Trump’s tech team must raise the guard rail to make sure Truth Social doesn’t run out of the app store they run. Apple and alphabet Google – A fortune that affected the popular Orthodox app parlor In the wake of the riots at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Without these stores, there is no easy way for most smartphone users to download the app.

According to two people with knowledge of the matter, the risk of such “de-platforming” is a top priority for TMTG chief executive Devin Nunes, a former Republican congressman, as his team builds the app. Recognizing that the app will be a prime target for hackers from day one, Nuance wants to have cyber talent at a “nation-state level,” one of the people said. Nunes has publicly stated that the company aims to launch its Truth social app by the end of March.

A spokesperson for TMTG did not respond to a request for comment.

TMTG remains shrouded in secrecy and is viewed with suspicion by some in tech and media circles. Two conservative media executives pointed to the venture’s apparent failure to launch the beta service in November as planned, and cited a lack of known participation by high-profile media, tech or political players – other than Nuance – as evidence. There may be more in it than in substance.

“No one has contacted me or my team,” said a conservative media insider. “Trump has always been a bit of (his) own island.”

content moderation

TMTG’s mission to stand up to Big Tech is limited by its reliance on Google and Apple, which operate the app stores that dominate the smartphone market. TMTG is working with Hive, a San Francisco-based company that conducts AI-based content moderation, to flag explicit sexual content, hate speech, bullying, and violent content. According to a person familiar with the venture, the partnership is driven by TMTG’s desire for Truth Social Apps to remain in the Apple App and Google Play stores.

TruthSocial will require automated detection and strong content moderation for individual teams as well as users to report offensive posts, said David Thiel, big data architect and chief technology officer at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

“Where it’s going to be difficult is if they get into a situation like a parlor where they have so much hate speech that the hosting service and potentially the App Store starts to take notice,” he said.

The Truth Social app will be subject to Apple’s App Store rules, which require developers to provide a way for users to report offensive content and provide “timely feedback.” The rules also prohibit content that “encourages violence” or “images that encourage the illegal or reckless use of weapons and dangerous goods.”

As of February 4, TMTG had 12 job openings listed on the company’s website, for technical roles such as one developer to be part of an Android team and one for iOS engineer. Salaries range from $80,000 (approximately Rs 60 lakh) to $220,000 (approximately Rs 1.6 crore) as per the postings, providing candidates who are “well-funded”, “remote-first” and “conservative-leaning” to work. inspires. start up. One requirement for the iOS engineer role is “knowledge of Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and App Store Review Guidelines (which are more like regulations).” One posting describes the ideal candidate as someone who “enjoys companies that are bad and are able to do more with less.”

The company is seeking to hire at least one developer with experience with the back-end programming language, Elixir, among other positions, according to a job posting.

In a January 13 interview with radio host Ray Appleton, Nunes said the Palm Beach, Florida-based company would seek a more “permanent” location over Silicon Valley in favor of states such as Florida, Tennessee and Texas. In the company’s early months, some tech talent has been working in the Atlanta area, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

© Thomson Reuters 2022