Former US President Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social has not yet been approved for distribution on Google’s Play store due to insufficient content moderation, Axios reported on Tuesday, citing a Google spokesman.

The delay marks a setback for the app, which launched in the Apple App Store on 21 February. Android phones comprise about 40% of the US smartphone market. Without the Google and Apple stores, there is no easy way for most smartphone users to download Truth Social. Google and Truth Social parent company Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Truth Social restored Trump’s presence on social media more than a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube following the 6 January 2021 US 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 in American life as vaccines and the outcome of the 2020 presidential election have been scrubbed from mainstream tech platforms.

TMTG is working with Hive, a San Francisco-based company that does AI-based content moderation, to flag sexually explicit content, hate speech, bullying and violent content on the app.

Human moderators decide what to do with the content Hive has flagged. While the scope of TMTG’s human moderation efforts is unclear, according to a posting on the TMTG website, the company is hiring a “community content administrator” whose job will include reviewing “user-posted content on Truth Social verifying it adheres to established community guidelines”.

TMTG is planning to go public via a merger with blank-cheque firm Digital World Acquisition. The US department of justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the merger.  — Reuters