Apple suspends Parler from the App Store

Apple, Google and Amazon gave the infamous right-wing microblogging app Parler a boot. Over the weekend, Apple gave Parler’s developers a warning to implement moderation within 24 hours or face removal from the App Store.

Apple, Google and Amazon take down Parler

Apple provided the following statement to the press:

We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity. Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety. We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues.

Soon after, the software was removed from Google’s Play Store as well. The search giant explained the move in a statement to Axios: “In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.”

Before taking the app down, Apple in an email made it clear to Parler that it’s responsible for ensuring the user-generated content meets Apple’s requirements. The iPhone maker specifically wrote that it’s aware that Parler was used to “plan, coordinate and facilitate” the activities that took place in Washington, D.C., at the Capitol Building, on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

Dangerous content

What’s more, Apple says Parler is being used to actively plan further violence in the future. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities,“ reads the email. “We won’t distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content,” the company said. The email provided numerous examples of Parler users explicitly calling for violence and referenced CEO John Matze’s comment that he doesn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform.

Apple’s full explanation

Apple complained that the processes which Parler has put in place to moderate illegal content “have proved insufficient.” The Cupertino tech giant has made it clear that Parler will not return to the App Store until it has “demonstrated your ability to effectively moderate and filter the dangerous and harmful content on your service.”

Here’s Apple’s full message to Parlor, via The Verge:

To the developers of the Parler app,

Thank you for your response regarding dangerous and harmful content on Parler. We have determined that the measures you describe are inadequate to address the proliferation of dangerous and objectionable content on your app.

Parler has not upheld its commitment to moderate and remove harmful or dangerous content encouraging violence and illegal activity, and is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.

In your response, you referenced that Parler has been taking this content “very seriously for weeks.” However, the processes Parler has put in place to moderate or prevent the spread of dangerous and illegal content have proved insufficient. Specifically, we have continued to find direct threats of violence and calls to incite lawless action in violation of Guideline 1.1 – Safety – Objectionable Content.

Your response also references a moderation plan “for the time being,” which does not meet the ongoing requirements in Guideline 1.2 – Safety – User Generated content. While there is no perfect system to prevent all dangerous or hateful user content, apps are required to have robust content moderation plans in place to proactively and effectively address these issues. A temporary “task force” is not a sufficient response given the widespread proliferation of harmful content.

For these reasons, your app will be removed from the App Store until we receive an update that is compliant with the App Store Review Guidelines and you have demonstrated your ability to effectively moderate and filter the dangerous and harmful content on your service.

Regards, App Review Board

It doesn’t seem like Parler will be returning to the App Store anytime soon.

Amazon ditches Parlor, too

Over the weekend, Matze took to his company’s blog to inform users that Amazon also threatened to shut off all of Parler’s servers in an attempt he likened to removing “free speech” off the Internet. “There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch,” reads the post.

Just 12 hours later, Amazon ended its business dealings with Parler. “Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” he told Fox News. Although Parler promised to do its best to move to a new provider, even claiming that many companies were competing for its business, he said this to Deadline:

We’re going to try our best to get back online as quickly as possible. But we’re having a lot of trouble because every vendor we talk to says they won’t work with us. Because if Apple doesn’t approve and Google doesn’t approve, they won’t.

So, not only is Parler no longer available as a mobile app on iOS and Android but the app is also unavailable from web browser not that its hosting provider Amazon has booted it.