‘Is Google Trying to Fuck Me?’ Trump’s Tech Paranoia Hits New Level
Donald Trump has had a question for his friends and advisers in the past several weeks: “Is Google trying to fuck me?”
The source of his paranoia, according to two people with knowledge of the ex-president’s query, was the absence of an Android app for his struggling social media app, Truth Social. Since it launched in February, the app has been available only on Apple devices, leaving Android users — roughly 40 percent of the U.S. mobile device market — without access to the platform. This has left Trump with questions about the status of the product and whether his perceived enemies at Google had any plans to reject it.
“He keeps hearing about how Google and YouTube have it out for him … including on Truth Social, and I think he’s taking [it] seriously,” says one source who’s discussed the topic with the twice-impeached former president. (In some instances since last month, Trump has instead asked if Google is trying to “screw with me” on Truth Social or has simply inquired, “What’s up with Google?”)
In a statement about the future availability of a Truth Social Android app, TMTG chief executive Devin Nunes, the former congressman and vociferous Trump ally, appeared to lean in to Trump’s suspicions, hinting that Google’s approval of the app in its Play Store could be uncertain. Truth Social, Nunes wrote, was on the verge of making the app available in web browsers at the end of May: “After that we will launch an Android app … pending approval from Google!” A week prior to Nunes’ announcement, Trump alluded to Android availability during a rally in Ohio, telling fans that “non-iPhone users are coming very, very soon” to the platform.
A censorious Big Tech boogeyman blocking the former president’s app sounds like a plausible storyline to conservative ears, but there’s just one problem with the former president’s suspicions about a Google plot: It appears to exist entirely in his own head.
As of Tuesday, Truth Social hasn’t even submitted an Android app to Google to review for Play Store approval, an individual familiar with the matter and two Trumpworld sources with knowledge of the situation tell Rolling Stone.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for Truth Social did not respond to a request for comment.
Recent Truth Social job postings suggest the Android app is still under development. The company also recently advertised a job for a developer who can assist with “bringing some of our core products to Android,” according to a posting on the TMTG’s website.
YouTube, a part of the Google empire, suspended Trump from the platform days after the Capitol insurrection, but Google’s Play Store’s terms of service are separate from YouTube’s and contain no obvious provisions which would prohibit a Truth Social Android application due to Trump’s role as chairman of the company.
The lack of an Android app — and its current unavailability in the Play Store three months after the launch — marks yet another obstacle in what has been a shambolic rollout for Trump’s social media platform. In February, Nunes said in an appearance on Fox News that the company’s “goal” would be to have the app “fully operational” by “the end of March,” but users, including the former president, still had their complaints well into May.
In the time since February, the ex-president has repeatedly hit the phones to ask his advisers such pressing questions as “What the fuck is going on” with Truth Social? On multiple occasions, Trump has bemoaned the bad press the app rollout has attracted, demanding answers on why his new website wasn’t crushing his MAGA-app competitors. Things got bad enough that in recent weeks, the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was called in to take a lead role focused on trying to “fix” what was wrong with the company and the app performance, according to two people familiar with the situation. One of these sources frankly referred to what Trump Jr. was doing as an emergency “rescue mission.” (A spokesman for Trump Jr. declined to comment on this story.)
Truth Social’s “soft launch” made the app available initially only to iPhone users who had signed up for what disgruntled MAGA fans claimed was a glitchy, confusing, and lengthy waiting list for accounts.
Trump had hoped Truth Social would, in part, challenge the Big Tech social media networks that ousted him from their online platforms after the Capitol insurrection that the then-president instigated, but downloads of the app plummeted after an initial spike of interest following its launch.
In the face of declining interest in the app and Don Jr.’s “rescue mission” to try to turn around its performance, former President Trump has made a renewed effort to use Truth Social after largely ignoring his account there. (Trump is “generally obligated to make any social media post on Truth Social and may not make the same post on another social media site for 6 hours,” according to Securities and Exchange Commission paperwork the company filed on Monday.)
After weeks of not posting, the terminally online former president has logged back on to his platform to crank out a stream of “reTruths,” (rebranded retweets), and statements — including a request that supporters forgive Madison Cawthorn for his “foolish mistakes” as he faced a tough primary election. (They didn’t.)
Trump has also started to promote the social media company in his stump speech. “Have you seen Truth? It’s doing great. It’s new, it’s hot, and it’s actually much, much better than Twitter. It’s so … it blows Twitter away,” Trump said during a rally in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.
“Everybody loves it, especially the engagement,” the former president alleged.