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Apple to allow Parler back onto iPhone App Store

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Andrew Griffin
·3-min read
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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Apple will allow controversial social media app Parler back onto the App Store and its devices, according to a letter released by US lawmakers.

Alongside other tech companies, Apple banned Parler in the wake of the attacks on the Capitol in January. Apple said at the time that Parler had not moderated the app well enough, and that it was hosting content prohibited by its App Store guidelines.

Since then, Parler has appealed the decision and been turned down, over continuing concern that the app was being used to promote Nazi content and other problematic posts.

But earlier this month Tim Cook said that he hoped that the app “come back on”. “I’m hoping that they put in the moderation that’s required to be on the store and come back, because I think having more social networks out there is better than having less,” he told the New York Times in an interview.

Now, in a letter dated 19 April and made public by recipient Congressman Ken Buck, Apple said that the requisite changes have been made and Parler is expected to return to the App Store so that it can be downloaded onto its devices.

“In the period since Apple removed the Parler app from the App Store, Apple’s App Review Team has engaged in substantial conversations with Parler in an effort to bring the Parler app into compliance with the Guidelines and reinstate it in the App Store,” wrote Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director for government affairs in the Americas.

“As a result of those conversations, Parler has proposed updates to its app and the app’s content moderation practices, and the App Review Team has informed Parler as of April 14, 2021 that its proposed updated app will be approved for reinstatement to the App Store.

“Apple anticipates that the update Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it.”

Mr Powderly’s letter did not give specific detail on what changes Parler had made to satisfy Apple that the app’s new content moderation policies were in line with its rules.

He did not that the app had previously had its appeal blocked because Apple’s team had found “posts that encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism, and called for violence against specific people”.

Previous attempts to ensure Parler had a plan to address those posts were not successful, Apple noted, but the letter suggested that the updates to the app and its moderation practices would now bring it in line with those rules.

Apple was joined by Google and Amazon in cutting off Parler, leaving the app unable to either get onto the two main mobile operating systems, or to use its web hosting. As part of the letter, Mr Powderly wrote that the decision to do so was “independent”, did not involve consultation with those other firms, and that it stood by the choice to remove the app from the store.

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