Apple CEO Says Company Suspended Parler Because ‘Incitement to Violence’ Is Not Free Speech

January 16, 2021 Updated: January 16, 2021

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the removal of Parler from Apple’s online store was done because the company doesn’t consider incitement of violence free speech.

“We looked at the incitement to violence that was on there and we don’t consider that free speech and incitement of violence has an intersection,” Cook told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

Apple suspended Parler from its store on Jan. 9, asserting Parler didn’t take “adequate measures” to address alleged “threats of violence and illegal activity” by its users. The move followed Google’s suspension of Parler, and preceded Amazon Web Services (AWS) suspending Parler’s account, which led to the company going offline.

Cook said Apple has suspended Parler. “And so, if they get their moderation together, they would be back on there,” he added.

Parler CEO John Matze told The Epoch Times that his company’s terms of service were approved by Apple, Amazon, and Google. The technology giants had never indicated non-compliance, for the most part, before Parler saw an explosion of growth last week following the bans of prominent conservatives from Twitter, including President Donald Trump.

The wave of new arrivals left Parler scrambling to moderate its platform, Matze said.

“We were a little bit behind on our moderation on Friday. But that’s normal in large amounts of influx and growth. And we, of course, we need to adjust our algorithms and things to be more proactive about it,” Matze said. “Previously to Friday, we have presumed innocent before guilty, which is a lot of what our platform is about. So it’s hard to keep up with that as it gets on there.”

John Matze
Parler founder and CEO John Matze speaks to The Epoch Times’ Jan Jekielek on “American Thought Leaders” in 2019. (Screenshot/The Epoch Times)

Matze also argued that Parler is being held to a higher standard than Twitter and Facebook, where violent threats have remained live to this day. Apple, Amazon, and Google haven’t taken any action against Twitter or Facebook, which haven’t responded to requests for comment.

Amazon listed screenshots of posts it said were from Parler that contained threats against Amazon workers, executives, and facilities in a court filing this week as it asked a judge to seal identifying information of employees. The judge agreed.

Parler sued Amazon, asking a court to order AWS to take the company back. It noted that one of the top trending tweets on Twitter last week was “Hang Mike Pence.” “But AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter’s account,” the suit stated.

Cook, the Apple CEO, said earlier this week that Parler “has some issues with moderation.”

“There are some incitement to violence examples on there, and they need to step it up on the moderation. And our hope is that they do that and get back on the store,” he told “CBS This Morning.”

Presented with one of Matze’s arguments, that people’s free speech rights were being violated, he added: “We have terms of service for our app store. And some of those terms of service, he’s in violation of. All we’re asking is that he meet the terms of service.”

Joshua Philipp contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber