Donald Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social, should be removed from Apple’s App Store as it provides the former president and his allies an opportunity to continue their attacks on American democracy and promotion of violent extremism, according to a letter sent today to Apple CEO Tim Cook by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Trump, his senior administration officials and political allies regularly abused social media, using their platforms to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories. This conduct came to a head in the weeks leading to the certification of the presidential election on January 6, 2021, as Trump used social media to spread the “Big Lie” of a stolen election and encourage his supporters to come to Washington, DC to protest the results, leading to a deadly attack on the Capitol. During the attack, Trump posted a video to social media in which he doubled down on his false election claims. In response, multiple social media companies banned Trump from their platforms, and Apple removed Parler, which insurrectionists had used to coordinate their plans, from their App Store. Trump subsequently announced that he would be launching Truth Social, a Twitter-like platform where he could communicate with his followers. Truth Social is currently only available for download on the Apple App Store, and figures who promoted the kind of election misinformation that led to the January 6 attack, including Donald Trump Jr. and Roger Stone, have active accounts on the app.
“Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn a democratic election should itself be enough reason for Apple to choose not to do business with his company, but it is much worse than that,” said CREW president Noah Bookbinder. “In office, Donald Trump used social media to fan the flames of extremism and build momentum behind his anti-democratic endeavors. Truth Social is an outlet for Trump and his enablers to continue attacking our democracy, and by entering into business with him, Apple runs the risk of legitimizing and facilitating this dangerous behavior.”
Apple’s own App Store Review Guidance bans “objectionable content” including “defamatory, discriminatory or mean-spirited content.” In 2018, the company removed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s InfoWars app when it became apparent that users were violating Apple’s rules and disseminating false information. After January 6, Apple also pledged to “stand for democracy” and prevent the promotion of extremist content.
“By the company’s own rules, standards, and articulated values, Truth Social has no place on Apple’s App Store,” said Bookbinder. “At this critical time for our democracy, Apple must once again put its money where its mouth is and lead by example in banning Truth Social.”