Apple CEO Tim Cook
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Apple removed Parler, an app popular with Trump supporters, from its iPhone App Store on Saturday.
Apple said that posts on the pro-Trump social network related to the U.S. Capitol riot last week included calls for violence, which violates Apple’s rules against objectionable content.
“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,” an Apple representative said in a statement. “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.”
Google removed Parler from its Android app store, Google Play, on Friday.
The removal of the app comes in the wake of the violence at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on Wednesday that left five dead. The violence has renewed calls for social media and technology companies to more closely moderate their platforms, especially when it comes to calls to incite violence.
Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump’s personal account on Friday because it felt that Trump’s most recent tweets were inciting violence, while Facebook prevented Trump from posting through the inauguration later this month.
Parler was launched in 2018, and it emerged earlier this year as a pro-Trump alternative to Twitter with less content moderation. “We’re a community town square, an open town square, with no censorship,” Parler CEO John Matze said in June. “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.”
Parler remains accessible though a web browser, which Apple has previously pointed to as a way to reach iPhone users without requiring Apple’s approval.
Apple has not faced the same content moderation challenges as companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It doesn’t operate many platforms where users post or trade opinions.
But Apple does exercise control over its App Store, which is the only way to install apps on an iPhone. Apple removes apps regularly for violating its lengthy guidelines, and has previously banned apps popular with right-wing users, including the Infowars app in 2018, and before that, Qdrops, an app related to the Qanon conspiracy theory.
In a message sent to Parler on Saturday, Apple said that the social media app was failing to moderate and remove content that encourages illegal activity, citing two Apple guidelines, one prohibiting objectionable content and one that requires apps with user-generated content to filter out potentially harmful posts.
“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,” according to Apple’s message.
A previous message from Apple sent on Friday, reported by Buzzfeed, and posted in part by the Parler CEO on his account, cited a tweet from activist group Sleeping Giants with screenshots of the Parler app, including one where a user called on his followers to attend the inauguration “carrying our weapons.” Apple gave Parler 24 hours to add content moderation to its app or Apple would remove it.
Parler didn’t immediately return a request for comment on Friday. “Anyone who buys an Apple phone is apparently a user. Apparently they know what is best for you by telling you which apps you may and may not use,” Matze, its CEO, said in a post on Parler.