Apple suspends Parler from App Store

Apple confirmed that it has suspended the conservative social media app Parler from the App Store, shortly after Google banned it from Google Play. The app, which became a home to Trump supporters and several high-profile conservatives in the days leading up to the Capitol riots, had been operating in violation of Apple’s rules.

The company tells TechCrunch:

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.

In the wake of its decision Apple sent Parler’s developers the following note:

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

Conservative commentator and Parler investor Dan Bongino posted about Apple’s decision on the site:

The tech tyrants at Apple have pulled the app from their App Store. Apple is no different than the Chinese communist party in their preference for totalitarian thought control. I’m proud of the remaining liberty-loving people of this great country. And I’m embarrassed, and horrified by the tech totalitarians who’ve taken control of it.

Bongino was among those recently suspended from Twitter. He noted, however, that he had no intention to return to the site.

While Parler is no longer available through the store at present, it seems it will still be available to access for those who have already downloaded it. As The New York Times noted earlier this week,

If Apple pulls Parler from the App Store, people would not be able to download the app to their iPhones or iPads. People who had already downloaded the Parler iPhone app would still be able to use it, but the company would not be able to update the app, meaning it would eventually be rendered obsolete as Apple updated the iPhone software.

But Parler’s future remains more uncertain than most, as there’s a growing push inside Amazon to pull the plug on Parler, too.

The news comes shortly after Google banned it from Google Play. The app, which became a home to Trump supporters and several high-profile conservatives in the days leading up the Capitol riots, had been operating in violation of Apple’s rules, we understand. Apple’s App Store guidelines require apps hosting user-generated content to have moderation policies to remove content that incites violence.

Despite these policies, neither Apple nor Google had taken action to remove Parler in prior weeks, even though Trump supporters and other far-right users had used the app to call for violence and organize their plans to storm the Capitol. The insurrection left five people dead, over 50 police officers injured, and more than a dozen facing federal charges, in addition to the growing number of arrests emerging as suspects are identified.

Image Credits: Parler via the App Store

BuzzFeed News on Friday reported Parler had received a letter from Apple which warned that the app would be removed from the App Store within 24 hours, unless the company submitted a content moderation improvement plan.

Apple’s notice read:

We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property. The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.

(TechCrunch additionally confirmed BuzzFeed’s reporting.)

Parler CEO John Matze posted about Apple’s ultimatum to his own Parler account, saying he would not cave to “those authoritarians who hate free speech.” Earlier today, it was noted that the service reportedly removed a post from Trump associate Lin Wood over calls for violence against Vice President, Mike Pence.

Ahead of its removal, Parler had ranked No. 1 in News on the iPhone App Store and No. 13 Overall, according to data from App Annie. On Friday, it was ranking as high as No. 1, at times, on the iPhone’s Top Charts of free non-game apps, though final data was not available.

Image Credits: App Annie

Currently, the app is hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), but it appears to be in violation of the AWS Acceptable Use Policy which could serve as grounds for its removal.

The collective action of tech company employees is playing a key role in some of the decisions being made regarding Trump and his supporters’ access to platforms to communicate and organize in the days following the Capitol riots. According to The Washington Post, for example, over 350 Twitter employees signed a letter urging CEO Jack Dorsey and other execs to permanently suspend Trump’s account before the company followed through.

Trump has now lost his ability to post to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Twitch, to name a few. Meanwhile, Parler’s removal from both app stores will limit the reach of the more radical and violent Trump supporter movement to some extent, forcing them to more obscure corners of the web. However, many argue these measures have come too late, as the damage to not only Capitol, but to the nation’s psyche as whole, has already been done.

We have reached out to Parler for additional comment.

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Apple threatens to ban far-right social media platform Parler from its App Store amid complaints it was used to 'plan, coordinate, and facilitate' attempted insurrection (AAPL)

Summary List PlacementApple has issued a warning to the far-right social media site Parler over its alleged role in Wednesday’s attempted insurrection, saying it may remove the app from its App Store if Parler doesn’t implement a content moderation plan, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.
“We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple told Parler, according to BuzzFeed News, adding: “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”
Apple told Parler that it had 24 hours to implement a “requested moderation improvement plan” or the app would be pulled from the App Store.
Apple and Parler did not respond to requests for comment.
“We will not cave to pressure from anti-competitive actors! We will and always have enforced our rules against violence and illegal activity. But we WONT cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!” Parler CEO John Matze said in a post on the social media site, according to BuzzFeed News.
Parler has risen to prominence in recent months as mainstream social media sites have faced increasing pressure to crack down on hate speech, misinformation, and calls for violence.
Following the US presidential election in November, Trump supporters flocked to alternative social networks, including Parler, to plan election protests after Facebook and other sites banned groups that pushed debunked conspiracies. From November 3 to November 9, Parler was downloaded around 530,000 times in the US, according to data from Apptopia.
As a pro-Trump mob violently seized the US Capitol building on Wednesday in an attack that left five dead, the armed rioters used Parler and other conservative-leaning social media apps to organize. Apptopia told Business Insider that Parler downloads spiked to around 323% of their average weekly volume from October. 
“Hold your ground!!! Keep the ground you have gained. Do not relinquish what we have,” wrote one Parler user, who went by the handle “Immortal Noble Beard” and identified himself as a Proud Boy.
Many chimed in with posts tagged #revolution, #fightback, #firingsquad, and #civilwar. Others spread rumors that Antifa was behind the mob.
“Content of this dangerous and harmful nature is not appropriate for the App Store. As you know from prior conversations with App Review, Apple requires apps with user generated content to effectively moderate to ensure objectionable, potentially harmful content is filtered out,” Apple told Parler, according to BuzzFeed News, adding: “Content that threatens the well being of others or is intended to incite violence or other lawless acts has never been acceptable on the App Store.”Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world’s most expensive liquid

Amazon is removing Parler from its web hosting service, meaning the platform will go offline Sunday if it can't find another host

Summary List PlacementAmazon is removing the fast-growing social media network Parler from its web hosting service, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News. Amazon confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Insider.
In the email, Amazon Web Services said Parler violated its terms of service due to an increase in violent content shared on the website. Amazon said it “cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.”
“Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST,” the email said.
Unless Parler is able to find an alternative hosting platform, the website will go offline Sunday night.
Parler CEO John Matze confirmed Amazon’s decision in a post on the platform, saying its possible Parler will be offline for “up to a week.”
“We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business, however Amazon, Google and Apple purposefully did this as a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited,” he said.
Google and Apple banned the Parler app from their app stores this week also for violating policies by failing to remove violent content.
Read more: Inside the rapid and mysterious rise of Parler, the ‘free speech’ Twitter alternative, which created a platform for conservatives by burning the Silicon Valley script
Parler did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Amazon’s decision came amid calls by some of its employees for the company to stop providing cloud services to Parler, after some right-wing extremists used the site to plan the deadly siege at the US Capitol earlier this week.
In the email obtained by BuzzFeed, Amazon said it does not think Parler’s plan to moderate violent content manually with volunteers will work.
“This is further demonstrated by the fact that you still have not taken down much of the content that we’ve sent you,” the email said.
BuzzFeed shared screenshots of violent content on Parler that was included in Amazon’s email.
In one Parler post that included a photo of lawmakers taking cover during the Capitol riots, the user wrote: “How bout make them hang?”
Another screenshot showed a post that said “we need to start systemically assassinating #liberal leaders,” among others.
Parler became popular in recent months among supporters of President Donald Trump and members of the far right due to its lack of moderation.
Top conservative figures recently announced they would be moving to the Parler app and encouraged others to do the same, after Trump was banned from Twitter on Friday.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world’s largest cruise ship

Amazon has pulled Parler offline

What’s happening: Parler, a site which bills itself as a “free speech social network” and that was widely used to coordinate the storming of the Capitol last week, has gone offline after Amazon stopped hosting it on Sunday night, citing terms of service violations. Why?: Buzzfeed obtained a copy of the email from Amazon informing…

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