Google suspends Parler from app store, urges tighter content moderation

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Google on Friday suspended social media platform Parler from its app store while joining Apple in calling on the platform to tighten its content moderation rules or risk permanent removal. 

Google said in a statement it is suspending Parler, an app popular among conservatives that has gained popularity in recent months over its hands-off approach to content moderation, due to “continued posting” in the app that it said “seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.”

“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 spots that incite violence. All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months,” the company said in a statement. 

“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,” the statement continued. 

Google said that in light of “this ongoing and urgent public safety threat,” it is suspending Parler listings from the Play Store until it “addresses these issues.” 

Apple similarly threatened to ban Parler from its app store, BuzzFeed News reported Friday

The tech giant sent Parler an email Friday noting “numerous complaints regarding objectionable content” on its platform, and accusations that Parler was used to “plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C.” on Wednesday, according to the report. 

A Parler spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

The app has increased in popularity since the election, drawing in prominent conservative voices.

Parler has branded itself as a pro-free speech platform, citing its decision to largely not moderate content. Posts with election misinformation that may be flagged on traditional mainstream platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are left untouched on Parler.

The site was also rife with posts about the deadly riot at the Capitol on Wednesday, when a mob of President Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as some belonging to a far-right anti-government militia group, known as the 3 percenters, were promoting violent content about the riot, according to a report by Advance Democracy, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that conducts public-interest research & investigations.

As Google and Apple put mounting pressure on Parler to tighten content moderation rules, mainstream social media platforms have cracked down on election misinformation, violent content and the president’s own accounts. 

Twitter on Friday announced it had permanently banned Trump’s account. It followed a decision announced by Facebook the day before to ban Trump’s account indefinitely, at least until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump does not appear to have created a personal Parler account yet, but the app was experiencing outage issues early Friday evening after Twitter announced its decision to ban the president.

Tags Apple Donald Trump Google Joe Biden Parler

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