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Apple threatens Parler: Moderate Or You’re Out

Apple threatens Parler: Moderate Or You’re Out

 

Megacompany Apple is threatening to remove social networking service Parler from its App Store unless the company starts moderating its platform more harshly.

Reuters reported that Parler, billed as an alternative to Twitter without the left-wing bias, received the letter from Apple Friday evening following Big Tech’s crackdown on President Donald Trump and his supporters. Buzzfeed published portions of the letter sent by Apple, which demanded Parler update its moderation policies to ban users from planning to storm the U.S. Capitol like what happened on Wednesday.“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 in the letter. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

Apple then made its threat, “to ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store,” demanding Parler update its app and submit to Apple a “requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of the message.”

Parler CEO John Matze called Apple “authoritarian,” saying the company already enforces rules such as those demanded by Apple.

“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!” Matze wrote on Parler.

“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 also said.

Apple added that recent content on Parler has crossed a line and should be moderated.

“Content of this dangerous and harmful nature is not appropriate for the App Store. As you know from prior conversations with App Review, Apple requires apps with user generated content to effectively moderate to ensure objectionable, potentially harmful content is filtered out,” Apple wrote. “Content that threatens the well being of others or is intended to incite violence or other lawless acts has never been acceptable on the App Store.”

To be clear, Apple has not sent similar warnings to Twitter regarding its continued allowance of Chinese Communist Party propaganda or Ayatollah Khamenei’s repeated calls for the eradication of Israel.

Here is the full text of Apple’s letter:

We require your immediate attention regarding serious App Store guideline violations that we have found with your app, Parler.

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. The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.

Our investigation has found that Parler is not effectively moderating and removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of users in direct violation of your own terms of service, found here: https://legal.parler.com/documents/Elaboration-on-Guidelines.pdf

Examples of these complaints can be viewed on these links:

 

Content of this dangerous and harmful nature is not appropriate for the App Store. As you know from prior conversations with App Review, Apple requires apps with user generated content to effectively moderate to ensure objectionable, potentially harmful content is filtered out. Content that threatens the well being of others or is intended to incite violence or other lawless acts has never been acceptable on the App Store.

Your CEO was quoted recently saying “But I don’t feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.” We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users. We won’t distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content.

We have now rejected your app for the App Store Review Guidelines detailed below.

Guideline 1.1 – Safety – Objectionable Content

We found that your app includes content that some users may find upsetting, offensive, or otherwise objectionable. Specifically, we found direct threats of violence and calls to incite lawless action.

Guideline 1.2 – Safety – User Generated Content

Your app enables the display of user-generated content but does not have sufficient precautions in place to effectively manage objectionable content present in your app.

See the attached screenshots for more details.

Next Steps

Nothing is more important to the App Store than the safety of our users. You must resolve these issue immediately for your app to remain on the App Store.

Please remove all objectionable content from your app and submit your revised binary for review. Such content includes any content similar to the examples attached to this message, as well as any content referring to harm to people or attacks on government facilities now or at any future date. In addition, you must respond to this message with detailed information about how you intend to moderate and filter this content from your app, and what you will do to improve moderation and content filtering your service for this kind of objectionable content going forward.

To ensure there is no interruption of the availability of your app on the App Store, please submit an update and the requested moderation improvement plan within 24 hours of the date of this message. If we do not receive an update compliant with the App Store Review Guidelines and the requested moderation improvement plan in writing within 24 hours, your app will be removed from the App Store.

If you have any questions about this message, please reply and let us know.

Regards,

App Review Board

 



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