Controversial right wing social media network Parler was recently denied re-entry to the iOS App Store, documents obtained, and shared by Bloomberg show.
The company has now reportedly cut its three on-staff iOS developers, suggesting that it won’t be coming back to the App Store in the foreseeable future.
Parler Changes Are Not Sufficient
Parler was launched in 2018. Its app was initially available on Apple’s App Store. However, it was removed following the January 6 Capitol riot in the United States. At the time, Apple said that Parler would be welcomed back if it changed its moderation policies, and practices to stop the spread of dangerous, harmful content.
“We looked at the incitement to violence that was on there,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with Fox News in January. “We don’t consider that free speech, and incitement to violence has an intersection.”
Parler released new community guidelines in mid-February when it came back online (although not to the App Store) following an initial outage. But these were deemed not acceptable to Apple. In a message sent February 25, Apple wrote to Parler’s chief policy officer that:
“After having reviewed the new information, we do not believe these changes are sufficient to comply with App Store Review guidelines. There is no place for hateful, racist, discriminatory content on the App Store.”
Apple included multiple screenshots with its rejection note, showing user profiles featuring swastikas, and other imagery associated with white nationalism, in addition to misogynistic, homophobic, and racist material found on Parler.
“[S]imple searches reveal highly objectionable content, including easily identified offensive uses of derogatory terms regarding race, religion, and sexual orientation, as well as Nazi symbols,” Apple wrote. “For these reasons your app cannot be returned to the App Store for distribution until it complies with the guidelines.”
Making the App Store Safe for All
Apple isn’t the only tech giant to crack down on Parler. Previous hosting service Amazon Web Services (AWS) also stopped supporting the service, while Google joined Apple in removing the app from its mobile app store.
Apple has long taken the lead when it comes to curating the App Store to block out content that Apple deems harmful or offensive. In recent years, this need has become greater as the threat of fake news, cyberbullying, and other negative online behaviors have become more prevalent, and highly publicized.
Tim Cook has long said that he wants Apple to be an inclusive “force for good” in the world, and ensuring that apps available in the App Store reflect this has been a top priority for the company.