After President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter, far-right conservatives said it showed why many of them had been migrating toward Parler lately. The social network that is popular among Trump supporters is known for taking a hands-off approach to moderating content but that could soon change if its executives want it to continue to be widely available. Google has removed Parler from its Play Store, the main place where Android users download applications. The app is still available in other Android app stores. Apple could be next as it gave the company an ultimatum, saying that it would be removed from the App Store if it did not implement a full moderation plan.
In announcing the move, Google said its app store has long required social media apps to have content moderation policies and remove any posts that incite violence. “We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US,” a Google spokesperson said. “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.”
The suspension came shortly after reports that Apple had threatened to remove Parler from its App Store. In an email sent Friday morning, Apple told Parler executives it had received several complaints about the social network and how it was used to coordinate the assault on the Capitol. “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 wrote to Parler, according to BuzzFeed News. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.” Apple said Parler needed to submit a “moderation improvement plan within 24 hours” and if it failed to do so the app would be removed from its store.
Earlier in the week, John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, told the New York Times that he didn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.” Matze told the Wall Street Journal he was confident that “we can retain our values and make Apple happy quickly.”