What you need to know
- Apple may pull social media app Parler from the App Store.
- The company says the app failed to moderate content that led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Update, January 8 (8:00 pm ET): Google has pulled the Parler app from the Play Store.
As reported by Buzzfeed News, Apple has given Parler, the social media network popular among conservatives, a 24-hour period to address a number of complaints or face removal of the app from the App Store.
Buzzfeed got its hands on an email sent to Parler this morning. In the email, Apple's App Review Board says that it has received complaints that the app features "objectionable content" and that the app was "was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C."
"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. "The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities."
The letter goes on to say that, if Parler does not fix the issues laid out by Apple, including implementing a "moderation improvement plan," the app will be removed from the App Store. Parler's co-owner, Dan Bongino, posted to the platform saying that the move by Apple is a suppression of free speech.
You can read the full letter from the App Review Board at Apple to Parler below:
We require your immediate attention regarding serious App Store guideline violations that we have found with your app, Parler.
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. The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.
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, found here: https://legal.parler.com/documents/Elaboration-on-Guidelines.pdf
Examples of these complaints can be viewed on these links: https://twitter.com/slpng_giants/status/1347190280492089344?s=20 https://twitter.com/EmmanueLoree/status/1347260055410896897/photo/1 https://twitter.com/Lovedrea/status/1347263797614972928?s=20 https://twitter.com/Wilmographer/status/1346714000554303489?s=20 https://twitter.com/pjg0014/status/1347265499210592256?s=20
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.
Your CEO was quoted recently saying "But I don'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." We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users. We won't distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content.
We have now rejected your app for the App Store Review Guidelines detailed below.
Guideline 1.1 - Safety - Objectionable Content
We found that your app includes content that some users may find upsetting, offensive, or otherwise objectionable. Specifically, we found direct threats of violence and calls to incite lawless action.
Guideline 1.2 - Safety - User Generated Content
Your app enables the display of user-generated content but does not have sufficient precautions in place to effectively manage objectionable content present in your app.
See the attached screenshots for more details.
Nothing is more important to the App Store than the safety of our users. You must resolve these issue immediately for your app to remain on the App Store.
Please remove all objectionable content from your app and submit your revised binary for review. Such content includes any content similar to the examples attached to this message, as well as any content referring to harm to people or attacks on government facilities now or at any future date. In addition, you must respond to this message with detailed information about how you intend to moderate and filter this content from your app, and what you will do to improve moderation and content filtering your service for this kind of objectionable content going forward.
To ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store, please submit an update and the requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of this message. If we do not receive an update compliant with the App Store Review Guidelines and the requested moderation improvement plan in writing within 24 hours, your app will be removed from the App Store.
If you have any questions about this message, please reply and let us know.
App Review Board
A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment to Buzzfeed.
Update, January 8 (8:00 pm ET) — Google has pulled the Parler app from the Play Store.
Google has pulled the conservative social media app Parler from the Play Store. The company echoed Apple's own concerns about the lack of moderation on the platform and its continued use as a way to incite violence as the reason for its removal from the store.