Google booted the MAGA-friendly Twitter clone, Parler, from the Google Play store Friday as tech companies crack down on pro-Trump social media accounts pushing conspiracy theories and threatening violence.
In a statement, Google said that it removed Parler from the Play Store because the company’s “longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.”
Parler was formed in 2018 but gained in popularity among right-wing Trump supporters over the past year as top tier social media companies like Facebook and Twitter began to crack down on right-wing extremist content, election disinformation and promotion of the QAnon conspiracy theory. The company, backed by the billionaire Trump-supporting Mercer family, styles itself as a “free speech” haven and a “neutral town square” in contrast to larger tech companies, which Parler CEO John Matze accuses of harboring an anti-conservative bias in their content policies.
And it appears as though Google may not be the only tech company taking a tougher line on Parler.
Late Friday evening, Matze posted an interaction with Apple’s iOS App Store, which provides access to applications for the millions of iPhones and iPads purchased around the world. In a screenshot posted to his Parler account, Apple wrote to Matze that it had “rejected your app” after reviewing public comments he made denying responsibility for content published on Parler.
“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,” the message from the App Store reads.
On Saturday evening, Apple booted Parler from the App Store for its failure to weed out “threats of violence and illegal activity.”
Suspension from both the Google Play Store and Apple Store could cripple the growth prospects of Parler, effectively removing the app from accessibility on any Apple mobile device and making access on Android mobile devices significantly more inconvenient.
Social media companies have been on heightened alert for calls for violence in the wake of the riot at the Capitol instigated by President Trump. Parler has taken a largely hands-off approach to disturbing, threatening, and disinformation content from right-wing users. In the days since the riot, some Parler users have taken to the platform to threaten similar violence during the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony to swear in President-elect Joe Biden.
In one post that has since gone viral, a Parler user threatens that “Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons" and that Trump supporters will “come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match."