Parler was suspended from Google’s Play Store on Friday over its lack of content moderation, ironically the very reason the social media platform has quickly become an online gutter collecting deplatformed conservatives and far-right extremists. And a ban from Apple’s App Store may not be far behind.
Google pulled the app following the company’s purported role in the insurrection at the Capitol this week that left at least five people dead. Parler was one of several online forums that Trump supporters reportedly used to coordinate Wednesday’s riot and threaten violence against several political leaders set to sanction President-elect Joe Biden’s victory that day.
In an emailed statement, Google confirmed that “[i]n light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat,” it has suspended the app’s listing until Parler beefs up its moderation policies to keep that kind of “egregious content” off its platform.
“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,” said a Google spokesperson. “All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months.”
Apple has also reportedly threatened to kick Parler off its app store unless the company implements similar content moderation policies. In an email reviewed by Buzzfeed News from Apple to Parler executives, Apple threatens the company with expulsion unless it adopts a sweeping moderation plan in the next 24 hours.
Parler CEO John Matze confirmed Apple’s threat in a statement to Reuters on Friday. In its decision, Apple’s App Store review team cited instances of Parler users plotting to arm themselves and storm Capitol Hill, per a letter to Parler reviewed by the outlet.
Apple and Parler did not immediately reply to Gizmodo’s request for comment. But now that Google has pulled the trigger, Apple’s likely to follow its lead to avoid the bad press of continuing to host a safe haven tied to the terrorists behind this week’s violence.
For its part, Matze doubled down on Parler’s commitment to free speech in a series of posts on the platform Friday.
“We will not cave to pressure from anti-competitive actors!” Matze wrote. “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’s user agreement states that it may terminate accounts or remove content that engages in illegal conduct or endeavours to “infringe the legal rights of others.” However, the company’s mostly taken a hands-off approach to user content per its mission statement of being “the world’s premier free speech platform.”
You can read Google’s statement on the matter 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 recognise 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.