Apple has warned right-wing social media platform Parler to produce and implement a content moderation plan or risk its removal from the App Store.
“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” at the US Capitol on 6 January, Apple wrote in an email to Parler executives. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”
The Twitter- and Facebook-like, timeline-focussed app grew in popularity last year after far-right, pro-Donald Trump personalities abandoned other social media networks over perceived censorship issues or were banned from them altogether. The app has described itself as an “unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement” that allows “free expression without violence and no censorship.”
Over the last several months, violent political threats, conspiracies and insurrection-related posts have proliferated across the app, particularly in the days leading up to Wednesday’s violent siege at the Capitol. The app has served as a more-mainstream access point for QAnon conspiracies and messages from Proud Boys leadership.
On Friday morning, Apple gave Parler 24 hours to submit a content moderation plan, attaching several examples of incitement and calls for violence that appeared on Parler accounts with large followings. The news was first reported by BuzzFeed News.
The company said it disagreed with Parler CEO John Matze, who said in recent remarks that he doesn’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,” the company said. “We won’t distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content.”
Apple said Parler must remove all objectionable material from the app, including but not limited to several examples that Apple provided.
The company included screenshots of posts that called for the assassinations of Democratic elected officials and vice president Mike Pence, as well Twitter threads that screenshot Parler posts containing retaliatory and insurrectionary calls for violence from Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, Trump attorney Lin Wood and anonymous far-right users.
The Independent has reached out to Apple for comment.