Google removed the Parler social networking service from its app store, saying that the app will remain suspended until the developers commit to a moderation policy that could handle objectionable content on the platform.
“In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence,” Google said in a statement.
“All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months. We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US. 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.”
In suspending the service, Google, whose software powers Android phones, cited its policy against apps that promote violence and gave recent examples from Parler, including a Friday post that began “How do we take back our country? About 20 or so coordinated hits” and another promoting a “Million Militia March” on Washington.
“Google never gave us any warning,” Parler told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “The justification for the removal was screenshots shared on Twitter (Ironically allowed by Twitter and ignored by Apple and Google) of content that was banned on Parler for violating our TOS. This is not an attack on Parler. This is an attack on our basic civil liberties and right to free speech.”
At the same time, Apple has threatened to remove Parler from its app store. On Friday, Apple gave Parler 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan, saying that people used Parler to coordinate a breach of the U.S. Capitol building.
It is unclear who instigated the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In a statement on Parler, its CEO John Matze wrote in response to Apple’s move, “Anyone who buys an Apple phone is apparently a user. Apperently [sic] they know what is best for you by telling you which apps you may and may not use.”
He added, “Apparently they believe Parler is responsible for ALL user generated content on Parler. Therefor by the same logic, Apple must be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones. Every car bomb, every illegal cell phone conversation, every illegal crime committed on an iPhone, Apple must also be responsible for … Standards not applied to Twitter, Facebook or even Apple themselves, apply to Parler.”
Matze also shared two posts around the same time.
“We will not cave to pressure from anti-competitive actors! We will and always have enforced our rules against violence and illegal activity. But we WONT cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!” the first post reads.
The second post reads, “The media tried to claim that ‘The Insurrection’ was organized on Parler. There are quite a few problems with this.”
“1) Parler has no way to organize anything, Facebook groups was used heavily to organize the protests. 2) Protests are constitutionally protected. 3) Bad actors turned the protest into a riot,” he added. ” I know the media and everyone wants to point fingers and place blame. It is convenient for them to turn Parler into a scape goat.”
“The reality that everyone pointing fingers is to blame,” Matze also wrote. “We need to start thinking critically again and stop blaming one another. We MUST try to humanize one another again not dehumanize by leveraging witch hunt tactics which will accomplish the opposite of their intended purposes.”
Social media users in the United States have flocked to Parler, messaging app Telegram, and social platform Gab, citing the more aggressive policing of political comments on mainstream platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account as well as the Trump campaign’s account on Friday.
Epoch Times staff and Reuters contributed to this report.