By Julia Love and Helen Coster
(Reuters) – With just weeks to go before the planned launch, Donald Trump’s new media venture is trying to strike a delicate balance with its app: giving Trump’s base the freedom to express themselves, without violating Apple and Apple policies. Google on the App Store.
The launch of Truth Social comes a year after the former US president was banned from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It will be a major test of whether Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) and other tech companies that describe themselves as champions of free speech can scale alongside the Silicon Valley gatekeepers that conservatives have accused of stifling freedom of expression.
TMTG has pledged to deliver an “engaging, censorship-free experience” on its Truth Social app, appealing to a base that believes its opinions on such burning topics in American life as vaccines and the election outcome. 2020 presidential election have been wiped from consumer technology platforms.
Still, Trump’s tech team must erect safeguards to ensure Truth Social isn’t kicked out of app stores run by Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google — a fate that has befallen the conservative app. People’s Talk following the riots on January 6, 2021. in the United States Capitol. Without these stores, there is no easy way for most smartphone users to download the app.
The risk of such a “de-platforming” is a top priority for TMTG CEO Devin Nunes, a former Republican congressman, as his team builds the app, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Acknowledging that the app will be a major target for hackers from day one, Nunes wants to have cyber talent at “nation-state level”, one of the people said. Nunes has publicly stated that the company’s goal is to launch its Truth Social app by the end of March.
A TMTG spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
TMTG remains shrouded in secrecy and is viewed with skepticism by some in tech and media circles. Two conservative media executives pointed to the company’s apparent failure to launch a beta service in November, as planned, and cited the known lack of involvement from high-profile media, technology or political players – other than Nunes. — as proof that he could be more swaggering. than substance.
“No one has approached me or my team,” a conservative media insider said. “Trump has always been a bit of (his) own island.”
TMTG’s mission to stand up to Big Tech is limited by its reliance on Google and Apple, which operate app stores that dominate the smartphone market. TMTG works with Hive, a San Francisco-based company that performs AI-based content moderation, to report sexually explicit content, hate speech, bullying, and violent content. The partnership is driven in part by TMTG’s desire for the Truth Social app to remain in the Apple App and Google Play stores, according to a person familiar with the company.
Truth Social will need robust content moderation in the form of automated and in-person detection teams, as well as a way for users to report offensive posts, said David Thiel, Big Data Architect and Director of Stanford Internet Observatory technology.
“Where it’s going to get difficult is if they end up in a situation like Parler, where they have such a degree of hate speech that the hosting service and potentially the App Store start to notice. “, did he declare.
The Truth Social app will be subject to Apple’s App Store rules that require developers to provide users with a way to report offensive content and provide “timely responses”. The rules also prohibit content that “encourages violence” or “depictions that encourage the illegal or reckless use of weapons and dangerous items.”
As of February 4, TMTG had 12 job openings listed on the company’s website, for technical roles such as a developer on the Android team and an iOS engineer. Salaries range from $80,000 to $220,000, depending on postings, which urge applicants to work for a “well-funded”, “remote-first” and “conservative-leaning” startup. A requirement for the iOS Engineer role is “knowledge of Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and App Store Review Guidelines (which are more like rules)”. One publication describes the ideal candidate as someone who “enjoys businesses that are scrappy and able to do more with less.”
Among other positions, the company is looking to hire at least one developer with experience with Elixir, a back-end programming language, according to a job posting.
In a Jan. 13 interview with radio host Ray Appleton, Nunes said the Palm Beach, Fla.-based company would seek a more “permanent” location – favoring states like Florida, Tennessee and Texas over compared to Silicon Valley. During the company’s first few months, some technical talent worked in the Atlanta area, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
(Reporting by Julia Love in San Francisco and Helen Coster in New York; Editing by Kenneth Li and Matthew Lewis)
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.