Google, Apple remove Parler app over posts inciting violence

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Jan. 9 (UPI) — Google cut the Parler app from its Play Store listings over posts the company said incites more violence in the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot Friday, and on Saturday Apple followed suit.

Screenshots from Parler, which launched in 2018 as an alternative to Twitter, show posts referring to firing squads and calls to bring weapons to President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration, CNBC reported.

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The social media network is popular with supporters of President Donald Trump.

“We’re a community town square, an open town square, with no censorship,” Parler CEO John Matze told CNBC in a report last summer. “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.”

Google said in a statement it warned Parler about its content moderation policy earlier this year, which requires social media apps to remove posts inciting violence, but there were still Parler posts inciting more violence after Wednesday’s riot in the U.S. Capitol.

The Capitol insurrection left five people dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who died Thursday from injuries sustained during the siege, a Capitol Police statement showed.

“We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.,” the Google statement said. “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.”

The move, which makes it harder for Android users to download and access the Parler app, follows Apple warning Parler on Friday to tighten its content moderation or lose its platform on iPhones. Users who already have the app will still have it on their phones, and the app is also still accessible on the web.

On Friday BuzzFeed News reported on Apple’s email to Parler’s executives that there were complaints about the service being used to organize Wednesday’s riot. The email said Parler had to submit a plan to modify its platform within the next 24 hours or face removal from its App Store.

On Saturday Apple said Parler’s responses to that warning were inadequate and that it had suspended Parler from its App Store until its moderation issues were resolved.

“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety,” Apple said in a statement to CNN. “We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues.”

“Look, if it was illegally organized and against the law and what they were doing, they would have gotten it taken down,” Matze told The New York Times regarding Wednesday’s riot before the app was suspended from the Google Play store. “But I don’t feel responsibility for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has urged mobile carriers and social media companies to preserve content connected with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week as evidence.

On Friday, Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s personal account “due to risk of further incitement of violence” after the riot at the Capitol.

Donald Trump supporters breach Capitol, riot over election results

Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on Wednesday in protest of Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

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