In a flurry of activity Friday evening, several platforms took action against U.S. President Donald Trump. Twitter suspended Trump’s account and shortly after, both Apple and Google took stances against another social media platform called Parler.
For those unfamiliar with Parler, it’s a social network known for lax moderation and used by conservatives and extremists. Apple threatened to remove Parler from the App Store unless it submitted a “moderation improvement plan within 24 hours.” Further, Apple cited accusations that Parler was used in planning the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.
Google followed suit, removing Parler from the Play Store. The company said Parler would remain suspended until it implemented a moderation plan.
According to BuzzFeed News, Apple sent an email to Parler’s executives noting that it “received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content” posted on Parler. Apple cited accusations that Parler was used to coordinate the January 6th attacks and that the app “appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”
“Our investigation has found that Parler is not effectively moderating and removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of users in direct violation of your own terms of service,” Apple said in the email.
Likewise, The Verge obtained a statement from Google about the Parler suspension, which you can read in full below:
“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. All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months. We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US. We recognize that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content. In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues.”
Apple and Google’s actions will likely just make accessing Parler a little less convenient. The platform still exists as a website, and instructions detailing how to add the Parler site to your smartphone’s home screen are already circling online. Further, Parler’s CEO, John Matze, posted messages indicating the platform already offers sufficient moderation and won’t change to appease Apple or Google. Despite Matze’s claims, extreme content and calls for further violence are rampant on the platform.