Apple will allow Parler to return to its iOS app store with approved updates to its content moderation practices since taking down the social media platform following the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In a letter Monday to top Republicans on the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Apple wrote that its review team informed Parler its proposed updated app will be approved for reinstatement.
Apple removed Parler from its app store for posts related to the Capitol riot calling for violence, which violated Apple’s rules against objectionable content.
Since Parler’s removal, Apple has had “substantial conversations” with the platform in an effort to bring it into compliance with content guidelines that ban offensive or discriminatory content, including posts likely to humiliate, intimidate or harm a targeted individual or group
“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,” according to the letter. “Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it.”
Lee, a frequent Parler user, and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., sent a letter to the CEOs of Google, Apple and Amazon last month questioning actions the companies took against Parler, including its removal from the app store.
Parler is an alternative to Twitter that attracts conservatives, some of whom were banned from other social media platforms.
“Conservative speech must not be silenced,” Lee tweeted Monday.
Lee has accused Twitter and Facebook of being biased against Republicans and conservatives during the 2020 election, including tagging one of his own posts about alleged voter fraud.
Last summer, Lee urged then-President Donald Trump to join Parler amid his ongoing battle with Twitter, which ultimately suspended the former president’s account.
“You have a lot of fans on that platform, which is dedicated to ‘unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement.’ Content is moderated but not politically biased,” Lee posted on Twitter in June 2020.
Apple removed Parler from the app store after accusations that the social media platform was fostering calls to violence ahead and following the raid on the U.S. Capitol.
“Apple has in the past communicated with Parler regarding failures in its content moderation efforts, as well as its desire stated at various times to not moderate content at all. Earlier this year Apple was again alerted to posts in the Parler app that violated Apple’s policies with respect to user generated content,” according to the letter.
The letter says Apple’s review team found a significant number of posts on Parler that encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism and called for violence against specific people.
Apple says it made an independent decision to remove Parler for noncompliance with its guidelines, and did not coordinate or consult with Google or Amazon.
Buck called Apple’s decision to reinstate Parler a “huge win for free speech.”
Apple’s decision comes two days ahead of a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee antitrust subcommittee Wednesday on competition in app stores. An Apple executive will testify at the hearing after Lee and subcommittee Chairwoman Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., criticized the company over its earlier refusal to send a witness.