Trump SPAC stock jumps after Google adds Truth Social to Play Store

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The Truth social network logo is seen displayed behind a woman holding a smartphone in this picture illustration taken February 21, 2022.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp., the company aiming to take former President Donald Trump’s media company public, jumped during premarket trading Thursday after Google added the Truth Social app to its Play Store.

The platform had previously been barred from the Play Store for content moderation concerns. Google said the app violated its policies for moderating user-generated content.

“Apps may be distributed on Google Play provided they comply with our developer guidelines, including the requirement to effectively moderate user-generated content and remove objectionable posts such as those that incite violence,” a Google spokesman said Wednesday.

Truth Social has agreed to enforce content moderation policies, which include removing or blocking users who publish posts that incite violence, according to Google. Twitter had banned Trump in January 2021 “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” after hundreds of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. That action spurred Trump to create Truth Social.

Truth Social is now available to the 44% of smartphone users in the U.S. who use an Android. Before the app was unbarred, Android users had to access Truth Social on their phone web browser or by “sideloading” it through another website. The app has been available on Apple’s App Store. Google reinstated Parler, a platform similar to Truth Social, to the Play Store in September after the app was substantially modified to comply with Google’s policies.

CNBC has reached out to DWAC and Trump Media and Technology Group.

The news comes days after DWAC, a so-called blank check company, further pushed a vote to delay its merger with Trump Media. DWAC, led by CEO Patrick Orlando, has thus far failed to garner the necessary 65% of shareholders to extend the merger deadline. DWAC is set to liquidate Dec. 8 if an extension is not approved.

The merger has faced obstacles, both legal and financial. DWAC’s private investors were set to provide $1 billion to Trump Media upon the merger’s completion. But at least $138 million of that money was withdrawn, and the company moved its address to a UPS Store

The DWAC-Trump Media deal is the subject of a Justice Department probe into potential securities violations for discussions between the two companies prior to the merger announcement last fall.

Trump founded Truth Social after he was barred from Twitter over his tweets on Jan. 6, 2021, when his followers stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent attempt to block Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

DWAC’s shares took a leg down last week after Elon Musk revived his deal to buy Twitter, where Trump had about 80 million followers. Musk has said he would let Trump back on Twitter. Trump has about 4 million followers on Truth Social.

Meanwhile, a whistleblower from within Trump Media, William Wilkerson, has provided the SEC with internal documents. He filed a complaint with the regulator, alleging securities violations.

“One way or another, this company is going to go bankrupt,” Wilkerson recently told the Miami Herald. ”I don’t think the company is going to be approved by the SEC.”

DWAC has also warned that further damage to Trump’s reputation could imperil the company. Trump, who is considering another run for president in 2024, is facing a federal criminal probe into whether he illegally kept and stashed sensitive national security documents after he left the White House.

Shares of DWAC, which closed Wednesday at $15.96, have fallen about 69% so far this year.

Sophie Tremblay

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