Apple has suspended the social media app Parler from the App Store, citing the developers’ failure to address “threats to people’s safety”. It’s been alleged that the app was used to co-ordinate the attacks on the US Capitol on 6 January, in which five people died.
Apple contacted Parler on Friday, as reported by
MacRumors, to relay complaints about content on the app and allegations that it had been “used to plan, co-ordinate and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington DC on 6 January”. Cupertino also noted that Parler was being used to co-ordinate “yet further illegal and dangerous activities”, and gave the developers 24 hours to submit a plan of changes or be removed from the App Store.
Parler’s response – which was to undertake moderation “for the time being” – was felt to be insufficient, and the app has now been removed. It has also been removed from Google’s Play Store, and been suspended by its host, Amazon Web Services.
Parler claims to be a platform for freedom of speech, but since its inception has been primarily a haven for American conservative politics, Trump fans and extremists. Donald Trump has recently been banned from
most mainstream social media sites – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat and Pinterest, slightly surreally – and was expected to shift much of his focus to Parler. This news is therefore poorly timed for the lame-duck president.
Since we wrote this story some critics have claimed that the move does not go far enough. An organisation has filed a lawsuit against Apple for
not banning Telegram as well.
This is by far the highest-profile App Store ban of the year so far, and nothing in recent memory compares. Last year’s biggest removal was
Fortnite, under very different circumstances.