A general view of the Parler app icon displayed on an iPhone in London, England on January 9, 2021.
Hollie Adams | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Apple removed Parler, an app popular with Trump supporters, from the iPhone App Store on Saturday.
Apple said posts on the pro-Trump network relating to the U.S. Capitol uprising last week contained calls for violence, which violates Apple’s rules on objectionable content.
“We have always supported different points of view that are represented in the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats from violence and illegal activities,” said an Apple representative in a statement. “Parler has not taken appropriate action to counter the spread of these human security threats. We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they address these issues.”
Google removed Parler from its Android app store Google Play on Friday.
The app was removed after the violence in the US Capitol by Trump supporters on Wednesday, in which five people died. The violence has once again led social media and technology companies to moderate their platforms more closely, especially when it comes to inciting incitement to violence.
Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump’s personal account on Friday because it appeared that Trump’s recent tweets were inciting violence, while Facebook blocked Trump from posting the inauguration later this month.
Parler was launched in 2018, and earlier this year it emerged as a pro-Trump alternative to Twitter with less content moderation. “We’re a community town square, an open town square with no censorship,” said Parler CEO John Matze in June. “If you can say it on the streets of New York, you can say it on Parler.”
Parler remains accessible through a web browser that Apple previously pointed out to reach iPhone users without the need for Apple approval.
Apple didn’t face the same content moderation challenges as companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. There are not many platforms on which users post or exchange opinions.
However, Apple has control over its app store. This is the only way to install apps on an iPhone. Apple regularly removes apps for violating its lengthy guidelines and has previously banned apps that are popular with right-wing users, including the Infowars app in 2018 and previously Qdrops, an app related to the Qanon conspiracy theory.
In a message sent to Parler on Saturday, Apple said the social media app is not moderating and removing content that promotes illegal activity. Two Apple policies were cited, one prohibiting unwanted content and one requiring apps with user-generated content to filter out potentially harmful contributions.
“Parler has failed to comply with its obligation to moderate and remove harmful or dangerous content that leads to violence and illegal activity, and does not comply with the guidelines for reviewing the App Store,” said Apple’s message.
In an earlier message from Apple sent on Friday, reported by Buzzfeed and partially posted on his account by the Parler CEO, a tweet by the Sleeping Giants activist group was quoted with screenshots of the Parler app, including one that a user was viewing urged his followers to attend the inauguration to “bear 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. “Everyone who buys an Apple phone is apparently a user. Apparently, they know what’s best for you by telling you which apps you can and can’t use,” Matze, its CEO, said in a post on parler.