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Apple approves Parler's return to App Store

Apple approves Parler's return to App Store
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Apple will allow Parler to return to its App Store with approved content moderation updates made since the social media platform was removed in January after the insurrection at the Capitol.

Apple wrote in a letter sent to top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees on Monday that its review team told Parler proposed changes were sufficient on April 14, and the updated Parler app may return to the app store. 

"Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it," Apple's senior director for government affairs, Timothy Powderly, said in the letter addressed to Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRepublicans urge probe into Amazon government cloud-computing bid: report Allowing a racist slur against Tim Scott to trend confirms social media's activist bias Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckHillicon Valley: Trump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules | Facebook board's Trump decision pleases no one | Republicans float support for antitrust reform Republicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Facebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one MORE (R-Colo).

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Parler announced Monday evening that it will relaunch on the app store next week, following Apple’s letter announcing its approval to the lawmakers.

The platform said it implemented “several new safeguards in order to detect posts that would not fall within the protections of the First Amendment,” but still maintained that it would remain a “free and open platform without viewpoint censorship.”

“Parler has and will always be a free and open forum where users could engage in the free exchange of ideas in the full spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. We have worked to put in place systems that will better detect unlawful speech and allow users to filter content undesirable to them, while maintaining our strict prohibition against content moderation based on viewpoint,” Parler’s interim CEO Mark Meckler said in a statement.

Spokespeople for Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Lee and Buck had sent a letter to Apple pressing the company over its removal of Parler from the App Store. 

Buck tweeted that Apple’s approval for the updated Parler app to return is a “huge win for free speech.” 

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The lawmakers also pushed Google on removing the app from its store and Amazon for suspending Parler’s platform from its web hosting services. Those removals also happened in January, following the Capitol riot.

The Republicans had framed the actions as “three of the largest technology companies in the world” targeting “one small business.” 

Apple’s approval of Parler’s return comes just days ahead of a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee antitrust subcommittee App Store fairness. 

Apple said it will send a witness to testify at the hearing, after being pushed on doing so from Lee and subcommittee Chairwoman Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharRepublicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld Washington keeps close eye as Apple antitrust fight goes to court Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Minn.).