Breaking: Google removes the Parler app from the Play Store
Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress officially met to count the electoral votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election. I don’t have to tell you what else happened that day, but that event has had major repercussions on how tech giants are treating certain actors on their platforms. As it so happens, the Google Play Store is one such platform, and they have just pulled the plug on hosting the Parler app.
For those unaware, Parler is a Twitter-like social media network that is popular among the right-wing in the U.S. The service bills itself on being uncensored and has attracted millions of followers as mainstream social media sites like Twitter and Facebook clamped down on users. In the wake of the January 6th riot, Parler has been scrutinized for hosting user-generated content that Google and Apple have deemed to be in violation of their respective platform’s rules. For example, Google requires that apps with user-generated content “implement robust, effective and ongoing UGC moderation”, while Apple requires that apps with user-generated content include “a mechanism to report offensive content and timely responses to concerns.”
Unless Parler introduces more stringent moderation practices, Apple has threatened to remove the app from the App Store within 24 hours, says Parler Chief Executive John Matze. On the other hand, Google has gone ahead and removed the Parler app from the Play Store effective immediately. The app has already been delisted from the Play Store as Google cites an “ongoing and urgent public safety threat” that they say stems from Parler’s lack of “robust moderation for egregious content.”
Here’s Google’s statement in full:
“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. 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 U.S. 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.” – Google spokesperson
Users can still access Parler through its website and the app can still be installed on Android by sideloading the APK, but the removal of the app from the Play Store — and soon, the Apple App Store — will significantly limit its reach.
This article was updated at 9:50 PM ET to reword “seemingly without warning” to “on the other hand”, as Google’s statement mentions that they did warn Parler prior to removal.