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Apple and Google crack down on Parler after violent threats

Amazon, Apple and Google have banned the Parler social networking app from their respective services and app stores in the wake of Wednesday’s attack on the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters. Parler has been rife with violent comments since before the attack on the Capitol, and Apple and Google say they’ll restore the app only when Parler moderates its service better.

On Friday, as pressure grew for Apple and Google to remove it from their stores, Google suspended Parler from the Play Store, citing “continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.”

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 U.S. 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.

With the suspension, Parler is no longer available in Google Play, though people who have previously installed the app can continue to use it.

Apple also threatened a ban if the company doesn’t rein in the violent threats. Apple emailed Parler CEO John Matze saying that “Parler is not effectively moderating and removing content that encourages illegal activity,” BuzzFeed News reported. The iPhone maker gave him 24 hours to create a “moderation improvement plan.” Matze has previously said he disagrees with other platform’s moderation practices.

“Apparently they believe Parler is responsible for ALL user generated content on Parler,” Matze wrote in a response posted on Parler. “Therefor [sic] by the same logic, Apple must be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones.”

Parler is growing in importance to right-wing activists as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have put the kibosh on Trump’s social media accounts after loyalists stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

“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 reportedly told Parler on Friday, citing a handful of examples purportedly showing violent threats. “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. 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.”

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