Parler, the social media platform that has become popular with conservatives in recent months, has been removed from both major mobile marketplaces because the content in its app was not moderated appropriately.
Google removed the app from its Google Play Store on Friday night, stating that the company requires all apps to “implement robust moderation for monstrous content”. Apple gave Parler a 24-hour warning on Friday before the app was removed from the App Store on Saturday night.
In a statement, Apple said that while the company “has always supported different points of view,” Parler has not done enough to contain “threats from violence and illegal activity” on its platform. The company added that Parler will be suspended “until they resolve these issues”.
In an email to Parler, Apple’s App Review Board informed the app’s developers that “Parler has failed to meet its obligation to moderate and remove harmful or dangerous content that encourages violence and illegal activity.”
Parler had no immediate comment on the Saturday night suspension.
Membership at Parler had risen sharply in recent months, drawing 8 million users as of November. The platform rose to the top 10 free apps in the App Store. It had been number 1 on Saturday after news of his impending suspension broke.
The app wasn’t just a haven for “free speech,” as it billed itself. It was also a largely unmoderated breeding ground for misinformation and hate speech.
It was also one of the platforms for organizing the uprising in Washington, DC on Wednesday, on which pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol Building as Congress tried to confirm the results of the presidential election. However, Parler CEO John Matze told the New York Times this week that he “didn’t feel responsible for any of this or the platform, as we are a neutral city square that only obeys the law.”
While the president doesn’t currently have an active account with Parler, he may soon be able to – that is, if he has already downloaded it. Trump was temporarily suspended from Facebook, Snapchat and Twitch and finally banned from his platform on Twitter on Friday, which has significantly contributed to his political career and presidency.
Following Wednesday’s chaos, Twitter also banned numerous far-right accounts this week, including pro-Trump lawyers Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, as well as a brigade of other QAnon conspirators. The mainstream social media companies, who reluctantly punished Trump for breaking the rules during his political ascent and his first three years in office, hit 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic, mass protests for racial justice and an electoral cycle full of disinformation.
Many Conservatives, including Republican politicians, have complained about the perceived bias against them, although there is no substantial evidence to support their allegations. Parler and other services like Gab have emerged in recent years to offer conservative alternatives to Facebook and Twitter. However, these platforms have largely become overcrowded as users tested the limits of free speech online. (Apple denied Gab’s request to appear on its App Store, while Google removed it from the Play Store in 2017.)
Parler didn’t budge on its version of “free speech,” and Apple and Google, which unilaterally control app economics on their devices, said this weekend that the company has crossed the line.