January 27, 2021

Parler social network app removed from Google Play as Apple threatens ban

The social media network Parler has grown significantly over the past year as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter and Facebook, though it has been constantly criticized for allowing extremist content and damaging conspiracy theories. Following the raid on the U.S. Capitol by far-right extremists that left at least five people dead, Apple demanded Parler establish new moderation policies, but Google appears to have skipped ahead and banned the app entirely.

Earlier today, Apple cited instances of Parler being used to coordinate plans for this week’s raid in Washington D.C, and told the service to overhaul its moderation policies or risk being removed from the App Store. Google has already banned the application, as the listing is no longer available on Google Play. Google provided the following statement to Android Police:

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.

Google also confirmed that the takedown won’t delete Parler from phones with it already installed, and the site will continue to function in Chrome with full functionality (however, the site seems to be having issues right now). A cached copy of Parler’s Play Store listing said it passed 5 million installs during its time on the store. Parler was removed from our sister site APKMirror earlier today.

Parler was first released in 2018, and quickly caught on as a popular platform for right-wing activists and politicians, especially those banned by Twitter and Facebook. It surged in popularity following November’s U.S. presidential election, partially in response to the increased fact-checking by Twitter and Facebook on posts from Donald Trump and other high-ranking Republicans.

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