By Queenie Wong
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Presidency of Donald Trump has become a boon for software developers. A growing number of developers have been making apps and web services to cater to both sides of the Trump divide and even those in between.
Upset after Donald Trump’s presidential victory, 20-year-old Bastian Shah wanted to fight back by hitting Trump where it might hurt the most: his wallet.
So he downloaded Boycott Trump, an app that compiles a list of businesses that have ties to the president and helps users contact them through e-mail, Twitter or a phone call. Shah, who now volunteers for the liberal organization that created the app, steers clear of restaurants that Trump has an ownership stake in and deleted the ride-hailing app Uber. Boycott Trump has helped him personally resist Trump and get through the day, he said.
“At the end of the day Trump, I really believe, doesn’t care about anything other than his bottom line,” said Shah, who is from San Jose but attends college in New York. “If we can hurt his bottom line, that’s kind of where I’m coming at this from.”
Whatever his ultimate effect on the nation, Trump’s candidacy and election have been a gold mine for Twitter, the news media and “Saturday Night Live.” They’ve also become a boon for software developers, a growing number of which have been making apps and web services to cater to both sides of the Trump divide and even those in between.
So whether you consider yourself part of the resistance, are yearning to “Make America Great Again,” or are somewhere in the middle, there’s likely an app for you.
The Trump app phenomenon is a function of the moment we live in, both politically and technologically, said Robert Siegel, a lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and a partner at XSeed Capital. Advances in technology have made it easier for startups to launch new apps faster and more cost-effectively than in previous presidential administrations, he said.
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“Not only do we have an incredibly non-traditional new president, but we also have an opportunity for people to start new businesses with technology platforms that were previously unavailable,” he said.
One such Trump-inspired app is Presidential Actions. The app, which UC Berkeley sophomore Ash Bhat and his roommate Rohan Pai put together in less than a day, alerts users every time the president signs an executive order or takes another action, providing press releases and documents from the White House’s website. It also displays a map of nearby town hall meetings held by lawmakers.
Bhat had politics on his mind after Trump threatened to pull federal funding from UC Berkeley in February. Violent protests caused university officials to cancel an appearance by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos, prompting the president to tweet that the university doesn’t allow free speech.
“One of the big things that we can do is just educate people and let them come to their own decisions,” said Bhat, whose app is used by both Democrats and Republicans. “There’s misinformation going around.”
After releasing the app for the iPhone, Presidential Actions also launched an Android version that was built by Bhat’s friend Mohammad Adib.
Instead of simply informing citizens, the Democratic Coalition Against Trump’s aim with its Boycott Trump app, which it launched after the mogul’s victory in November, is to help them oppose the president by pressuring his business partners.
Among the companies it targets are businesses that sponsored “Celebrity Apprentice,” carry Trump’s menswear line or have executives who donated to his presidential campaign.
“It was almost therapeutic because there was a lot of people who felt powerless at the time,” said Nathan Lerner, the coalition’s executive director. “You do have a voice every single day with your purchasing power.”
Other Trump apps take themselves and the president a lot less seriously, choosing to take on the president by poking fun at him. Donald Trump Soundboard allows users to create ringtones from Trump phrases. With Fake Call Donald Trump and other apps, users can prank their friends with a call that looks and sounds like it’s coming from the president. In the Trump Dump game, users can even turn Trump into a pile of poop.
But while many app developers are catering to Trump opponents, others are targeting the president’s fans.
TrumpSingles.com, which was created by Santa Clarita Republican David Goss, vows to make dating great again.
Goss launched the dating site after hearing stories about the backlash Trump supporters got when politics came up during a date.
“As soon as someone mentioned they were a Trump supporter, the date went sour,” he said.
Trump fans who connected over the site have grabbed dinner together or gone out on dates at a shooting range, Goss said.
The site, which launched in May 2016, saw its number of users grow to about 38,000 after Trump’s presidential win.
TrumpSingles.com even captured the attention of comedian Seth Meyers, who parodied the site on his late night show this month.
Some analysts worry that, as fun as they may be, apps that pick a side in the political debate ultimately won’t be good for us or society as a whole because they could deepen our political biases.
“We are in an incredibly polarized country,” Stanford lecturer Siegel said. “The echo chamber continues to be reinforced even after the election.”
But not all app makers that are trying to cash in on Trump are focusing on politics. The people behind Trigger Finance think there’s money to be made in a more traditional way — in the markets.
Trigger’s service allows investors to create rules that take certain finance-related actions based on public information. For example, an investor can ask the service to buy shares of a particular index fund if the Federal Reserve changes its interest rates.
After seeing the stock prices of companies like Toyota, Lockheed Martin and Boeing take a hit from being targeted by Trump on Twitter, Trigger’s users urged the company to give them the ability to create alerts for whenever the president tweets about a publicly traded stock they own.
Trigger released the feature in January, and it’s since become the service’s most popular feature, said Rachel Mayer, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
“He’s sort of dialed down on the tweeting, but I don’t anticipate that to stop throughout the course of the year,” she said. “There’s always going to be a new industry he’ll target later on.”
Trump apps, features and services at glance
Presidential Actions: App that alerts users every time Trump signs an executive order or takes another action, providing press releases and documents from the White House’s website. It also displays a map of nearby town hall meetings held by lawmakers.
TrumpSingles.com: Dating site aimed at Trump fans that costs $19.99 per month.
Boycott Trump: App lists businesses that have ties to Trump and explains why users should boycott them.
Trigger: Finance app that can be set to alertusers when Trump tweets about a company whose stock they own.
Trump Dump: Mobile game in which users can dump poop on Trump after guiding a bird through a gap in a brick wall.
Donald Draws Executive Doodles: App that lets users create Trump executive order memes.
Donald Trump Soundboard: App that contains more than 300 Trump phrases that can be turned into a ringtone or notification sound.