Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter on Friday, and if he’s looking for a social media alternative he may be running out of luck with MAGA-friendly Parler. The social media site, deemed a safe space for violent rhetoric without fear of censorship, may be in trouble with Apple after Trump helped fan flames of a riot that was encouraged in part on social media platforms by Trump supporters.
Buzzfeed reported Friday that Apple has threatened to ban Parler from its app store unless it provides some sort of content moderation to remove hate speech and other threats of violence, some screenshots of which have been widely shared on other social media sites in the wake of Wednesday’s MAGA riot in Washington that killed five people.
“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 in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple wrote to Parler. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”
Apple said that “to ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store,” Parler was required to submit an update and a “requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of the message,” which was sent on Friday morning. Apple said if it did not receive an update from the company within that time frame, the app would be removed from the App store.
On other social media accounts, Apple and Google were seeing pressure to ban Parler and essentially deplatform those who have fled Twitter and Facebook in recent weeks over cries of conservative censorship.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) January 8, 2021
And is often the case when conservatives grapple with the constitutionally-protected freedom of speech, well, it doesn’t really apply here. While everyone has the ability to say things that they want, companies distributing those thoughts on platforms that are allowed by a company like Apple may be liable if violence results from it. And it’s well within their right to protect themselves by removing apps that violate their terms of service.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Parler would go away forever, just lose an extremely popular way applications are downloaded onto phones. Although Friday did bring word that Parler itself was down for a time, especially in the wake of Trump getting banned from Twitter.
well it looks like parler is down lol i'm sure this won't make anything worse pic.twitter.com/A9OAbZvmsW
— jane-approximate (@lazylazyjane) January 8, 2021
Moments after Trump was just banned on Twitter, all of Parler is down. Both the app and desktop site. pic.twitter.com/5hnyyw0L32
— Caleb Hull (I'm With the CCP Don't Ban Me) (@CalebJHull) January 8, 2021
It’s impossible to know whether Parler can actually institute those changes in time to avoid removal from the app store, and like that phone you still have Flappy Bird on, it may be able to survive without a presence in the largest mobile marketplace in existence. But it’s certainly bad news for those who like Parler as it is, and part of a day that’s changing the very face of social media in an enormous way.
UPDATE: On Friday, Google banned Parler from the Google Play store.