Apple Tells Congress That It Will Reallow Parler's App In The App Store, Now That It Has A Moderation Plan In Place

from the because-that's-it's-decision dept

Parler is coming back to the Apple iOS app store. As you’ll recall, Apple (and Google) removed Parler’s app from their mobile app stores back in January, saying that the app ran afoul of their requirements that platform apps must have reasonable content moderation policies. Parler, of course, falsely claimed not to do any moderation, but the company’s then CEO admitted that he enjoyed banning leftist trolls from his site.

After Parler was banned, there was a lot of wasted air screaming about how this was “anti-competitive” and “biased” against conservatives, and all of that was utter garbage. Google and Apple have policies in place, and if you violate them, you can lose access to Google’s and Apple’s platforms. And, of course, it’s since come out that there was quite a battle inside Parler regarding its moderation strategies. While the founder and former CEO, John Matze, had promised more moderation when the service came back, in a lawsuit that Matze has since filed against the company, he claims that he was fired for trying to put in place that moderation policy.

When Parler came back online with new hosting in February, the temporary CEO Mark Meckler had claimed that the service was coming back with AI and human moderators to deal with trolling, but insisted that it would not remove “content that attacks someone based on race, sex, sexual orientation or religion.”

It’s unclear how much has changed, or how effective such a filter will be, but Apple has apparently decided it’s good enough. In response to a demand letter from Senator Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck, Apple has said that it will reinstate Parler to the iOS app store. The letter explains, in great detail, how Parler was not following Apple’s developer policies, leading to the ban, and how it has now come into compliance.

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. In particular, Guideline 1.1.1 (?Objectionable Content?) states in relevant part that apps should not include offensive or discriminatory content, including that which is likely to humiliate, intimidate, or harm a targeted individual or group. Guideline 1.2 (?User Generated Content?) requires apps with user-generated content to include the following features to prevent abuse:

  1. a method for filtering objectionable material from being posted to the app;
  2. a mechanism to report offensive content and timely responses to concerns;
  3. the ability to block abusive users from the service; and
  4. published contact information so users can easily reach the developer.

Apple?s App Review Team found a significant number of posts on the Parler app that clearly violated Guideline 1.1.1, including posts that encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism, and called for violence against specific people. Apple has provided some examples of these posts to your staff. The volume and types of prohibited content available in the Parler app further indicated that Parler also was out of compliance with Guideline 1.2 since their moderation practices were clearly inadequate to protect users from this harmful and dangerous content.

On January 8, 2021, Apple sent a communication to Parler, requesting that it remove specifically identified prohibited content, as well as any similar content. Apple also asked Parler to explain how Parler would improve its content moderation practices to comply with the Guidelines. Given that Apple had previously notified Parler of similar compliance failures on multiple occasions, and in light of the egregiousness of the violations and ongoing potential for further harm, Apple asked Parler to respond within 24 hours. This private developer communication, which is on a secure portal available only to the developer, became public when it was first reported by The Federalist and shared on Twitter by individuals associated with Parler.

In response, Parler did not communicate a sufficient plan to improve its moderation of user-generated content in the app. Thereafter, and consistent with standard app review processes, Apple?s app review team, ARB, and ERB decided to remove the Parler app from the App Store for non-compliance with the Guidelines. Customers who had already downloaded the Parler app prior to its removal from the App Store could still access the app, and Apple understands that Parler?s website is accessible on the Internet, including through a web browser on an Apple device.

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. 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 updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it.

It’s unclear how this fits with Meckler’s earlier statement saying that the app would not block content that attacks people on the basis of race and other characteristics, but perhaps Parler’s moderation plans have… been modified.

Either way, this should get people to stop making false claims about “bias” against “conservatives” or how Apple was “too scared” of competition or whatever other garbage excuses will come down — but of course it won’t. The victim-playing culture warriors who now run the Republican Party will not let go, and will insist that, despite all this evidence that it was a straight up contractual violation that was ended when the breach was solved, this was actually some grand scheme to “silence” them. That’s not how it works and going around making up lies to play the victim is a silly way to go through life.

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Companies: apple, parler

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Comments on “Apple Tells Congress That It Will Reallow Parler's App In The App Store, Now That It Has A Moderation Plan In Place”

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63 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The victim playing wasn’t for Apple, it was to enable grift from morons on the right wing who don’t understand the reality of the situation. That time is not as lucrative as it was immediately after the event, so now it’s time to calm down and act like adults for a few brief moments until they do something to et themselves kicked off again.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Relevant to the story, in a way...

As one of the original co-founders of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi knows a little something about keeping controversial services online. Kolmisoppi and his colleagues spent decades battling a global coalition of corporations, governments, and law enforcement agencies intent on wiping the file sharing website from the face of the internet. Unsuccessfully.

Kolmisoppi took to Twitter this week to share some thoughts on Parler’s recent deplatforming for failing to seriously police death threats and illegal content before and after the fatal Capitol riots.

“The Pirate Bay, the most censored website in the world, started by kids, run by people with problems with alcohol, drugs and money, still is up after almost two decades,” Kolmisoppi said. “Parlor and gab etc have all the money around but no skills or mindset. Embarrassing.”

“In all honesty, the reason we did The Pirate Bay was to bring freedom and take back control from a centralised system,” Kolmisoppi said. “The reason that Gab et al will fail is because they’re just whining bitches that have only one ideology: egotism. Sharing is caring y’all.”

(Source)

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justme says:

moderation is nothing less than censorship. parler caved. there is no promise of an offense free life. if you dislike someone’s opinion then scroll on by and ignore it. act like an adult and not a child. social media platforms should not be censored (moderated), but should be a free flow of ideas and opinions. people don’t seem to understand that free speech is always, by definition speech that you may not like.

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justme says:

Re: Re: Re:

you’re correct that platforms can "moderate" their content, but not with the 230 exemption from congress. and censorship can happen from an entity, not just government. the fact is that the media are shills of the democrat party and are doing their dirty work. twitter & facebook regularly censor posts & opinions that they dislike. and yes it is censorship. if people in this country didn’t have such thin skin and could actually grow a pair we could have free speech in places like social media.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The First Amendment allows social media services to moderate speech on said services; 230 allows them to moderate without worrying about lawsuits over those decisions. Twitter can moderate any opinion and any political ideology it wants because “viewpoint discrimination” isn’t illegal. And Twitter moderates based on its Terms of Service, so if conservatives believe they’re being banned for their “conservative views”, ask those conservatives what views got them banned.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: If you don't like being shown the door, act like an adult

people don’t seem to understand that free speech is always, by definition speech that you may not like.

Speaking of not understanding free speech free speech has never been shorthand for consequence-free speech, if you want a platform that welcomes racists, sexists, plague-cultists and other forms of crazy and/or asshole then find or make your own, stop insisting that platforms more civilized people use host your rubbish.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re:

And you fail to understand the First Amendment, perhaps read it and reflect on what it actually says.

Btw, there is no promise of consequence-free access to social media either, especially if you behave like an asshole on it. An adult understands this and don’t complain like a petulant child when they are kicked off a platform.

And lately I have seen other people also promote the idea of "free flow of ideas and opinions", which is just a nice way to say "we want an audience and consequence-free speech so we can keep being assholes".

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justme says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

there was no insurrection. that is a liberal talking point, but nice try. what you’re referring to was a riot just like the thousands of blm & antifa riots that happened over the past years. no different. just lawless people rioting and destroying property. and no sane person supports such action by anyone.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

what you’re referring to was a riot

The riot intended to interrupt the certification of the presidential election results, and several rioters — by their own words, as captured on video — intended to “hang Mike Pence”. We can also safely assume that said rioters intended to harm other members of Congress.

It was an insurrection…

no sane person supports such action by anyone

…and the man who was then the President of the United States reportedly reacted with glee at the sight of “his people” breaking into a citadel of American democracy on his behalf.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

those are impressive assertions but there is no proof for any of it

Video shot by the insurrectionists shows them storming the floor of the Senate. Video exists of several rioters chanting “hang Mike Pence”. Pictures show a hangman’s gallows with a noose attached sitting outside of the Capitol building at the time of the riot.

jan 6 was just a bunch of idiots rioting exactly like the idiot blm people. no difference.

Black Lives Matter riots/protests were about a lack of racial justice and the pain of Black communities seeing Black people die unjust deaths at the hands of police officers like convicted murder Derek Chauvin. The insurrection was about White conservatives throwing a violent shitfit because “their guy” lost an election. If you can’t see a difference, that’s a “you” problem. Maybe try reading a book by a Black author instead of watching OAN or Newsmax all day.

i’m sure you support all the blm rioting

“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.” — The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

just lawless people rioting and destroying property

It’s funny how you lot only point this out after it was clear that Trump wasn’t going to support the people claiming "Trump’s speeches made them do it".

But it turns out that your team is really good at sacrificing each other when it’s convenient.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election fair and square; rather than take personal responsibility for his awful campaign (and the presidency around which he built said campaign), he blamed his loss on everything and everyone but himself. He also spent a period of months, spanning both before and after the election, prepping his followers to deny and contest the results of the election unless he won — with few, if any, Republicans daring to speak against him out of fear for their own political futures (if not their lives).

The people who stormed the Capitol should take responsibility for their actions. But they wouldn’t need to do that if Old 45 hadn’t primed them to take those actions in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

words don’t make people do things.

If words truly don’t make people do things, we wouldn’t spend so much time talking to people – trying to give them advice, propose a different course of action, or just tell them they’re flat out wrong. Like it or not, words have influence. The same applies to power, and your beloved Trump chose to apply those recklessly and poorly.

look into the concept of personal responsibility. something you liberals don’t understand.

I’m not the one claiming "But Trump made me do it" as an excuse for Jan 6th.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s sad how bad you are at this.

If you want to behave like an asshole, you will be treated as an asshole. That you think that me pointing that out makes me a "typical liberal pussy" only means you are an asshole who want to do assholery things without people pointing it out. But you didn’t like that I pointed this out so you had to insult me, which begs the question: who is it that really need a safe space? It’s apparently not me…

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

you’re the one who fears certain speech that may "harm you". i don’t believe in that concept.

Has anyone ever told you that the sound of your laugh annoys or angers them? Because few words in this world hurt more than the words that tell you how the sound of your joy causes pain to someone else.

Words don’t cause physical pain — but they can cause psychological pain, which you apparently refuse to admit or care about. For what reason should anyone be subjected to speech intended to cause such harm?

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

you’re the one who fears certain speech that may "harm you". i don’t believe in that concept. you’re the one that wants censorship, not me. you’re the one that wants sanitized safe that you agree with. you’re words, not mine.

Oh, please tell me where I said some speech may harm me? The simple truth is that nobody wants to listen to assholes, me included. If I get a choice in the matter I’ll kick the assholes out, that’s not censorship since the assholes can go somewhere else with their assholery.

That you can’t differentiate between censorship and moderation is a you-problem. If you have a guest over that starts screaming, is it censorship when you tell them to shut up or get out? If you are in a pub and one of guest starts screaming, it it censorship if the owner tell them to shut up of get out? Or do you somehow think censorship is based on who owns the private venue that tells you to shut up?

And here’s the rub, what kind of speech are you referring to? Do please give us an example of that kind of speech.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"you sound like a typical liberal pussy who can’t hand a different opinion."

Says a typical example of the entitled snowflakes who feel it’s personally offensive other people won’t hand them a soapbox and a bullhorn.

Feel free to be as much of an asshole as you like. In your own home or in a public space. In someone else’s home you have no squatter’s rights, shitwit.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

go find your safe space.

How appropriate. That’s what I think when you conservative fucktards whine and bitch about Facebook & Twitter not putting up with you assholes.

Why don’t you head over to the Pillow Guy’s shitshow of a site? I hear it’s working really well.

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sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ye gads, yet again. Sigh.

OK, justme, here we go. Buckle up and keep your dramamine handy….

moderation is nothing less than censorship.

Censorship is defined as one party attempting to interfere with another party’s attempt to speak (promote an idea) to yet another party. Don’t make the mistake of confusing that with the word ‘moderation’, there’s a world of difference. Since the arch-conservatives have decided to label people with brains as "woke", I’ll tender that we "woke" folk should start calling them "sleepers", as they certainly don’t want to wake up and smell the coffee – that might make them appear to be intelligent, and they can’t have that, can they? OTOH, doing such would mean that I’ve stooped down to their level of ignomy, and I really don’t want to sling mud with them, they’d pummel me with greater experience. Eh, best to not go down that road. Never mind.

if you dislike someone’s opinion then scroll on by and ignore it.

Absolutely the best way to conduct life. However, if one keeps their head buried in the sand, one will definitely get their ass kicked by those who don’t hide their heads in the sand….. or rather, by those who keep sticking their heads where the sun will never shine. To wit, it’s OK to express an opinion, even an unpopular one, but it’s NOT OK to call for violent action against someone (or more than one) just because they don’t like your opinion – that’s verboten, plain and simple. Doing so steps over the line of mere "speech" and treads into the realm of calling for the commission of harm upon another person. I’d lay odds that you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of such a call to action/violence, eh?

social media platforms should not be censored (moderated), but should be a free flow of ideas and opinions.

See my statement above about the difference between free-flowing ideas/opinions and calls for taking the law into one’s own hands. I hope it hasn’t escaped your notice that most of the whoop-de-doo over that last several months/years has been about calls to violence, either implicit or explicit. Not a good look for "free flowing ideas and opinions". In my opinion, of course.

people don’t seem to understand that free speech is always, by definition speech that you may not like.

You are certainly correct on this one. I do wonder, however, how it is that you can be so haphazard in swinging from one side of the bar to the other, in just a few sentences. But watch this, Bunky – it’s not about free speech at all. That’s yet another failed attempt at misdirection foisted upon you (and other believers). Pay attention, we’re coming to the good part:

You will recall (do I need to put that in caps for you?) that 1A works as a limit on government at all levels, period. It says nothing about what private citizens (and by extension from the Supreme Court, corporations) can do to each other, at least in terms of speech, and my favorite part – association with others.

Let me go over that last bit with you, in somewhat more detail. 1A also says that the government cannot prohibit members of the public from "peaceful assembly" (paraphrased), and that’s the true heart of the matter here. No matter how much, nor how loud, conservatives scream and holler that they’re being "shut down", they aren’t – there are always, always other outlets for those crybabies to go tattle on "the mean people over there". Contrast that with the government – if they were to "shut you up", you’d be totally unable to go anywhere in order to complain, isn’t that right?

What’s at play here is the fact that Facebook, et al. are private citizens who choose not to associate ("peacefully assemble") with others that don’t think alike, at least to some degree. Fb in particular is OK with outrageous misfits that thumb their noses at adults, but they do take steps to end everyone’s misery when said asshelmets step over the line and start espousing their opinions as calls to action to alleviate their private grievances. And again, I’m getting the sense from your statements that you would not want to be in the boots of someone who is being "censored/moderated" because they’re acting like a two-year-old….am I correct on that one too?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Tough talk, broski. I’m not the one shilling for a platform so mired in Republican echoing, that unmoderated users were motivated en masse to lead an insurrection which they were like totes sure that their Dear Leader ordered.

A platform, I should add, boasted its own choice to not moderate, then have its staff work round the clock to kick off anyone suspected of being a "leftie" or a "libtard". Apparently you guys are "adults who can take unpleasant words no problem" until there’s a possibility that Trump’s feefees might be hurt.

But hey, I’m not the one on the side of a bunch of 2nd Amendment worshippers now looking at time in the hoosegow after Trump opted to throw all of you under the bus. Play stupid games, win bigly stupid prizes.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

The First Amendment protects your rights to speak freely and associate with whomever you want. It doesn’t give you the right to make others listen. It doesn’t give you the right to make others give you access to an audience. And it doesn’t give you the right to make a personal soapbox out of private property you don’t own. Nobody is entitled to a platform or an audience at the expense of someone else.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Never said as much”, huh? Let’s put that to the test.

moderation is nothing less than censorship.

Ah, you chose to use the “moderation is censorship” fallacy.

The fallacy in question implies that any effort from a social media service to moderate speech is tantamount to a violation of the First Amendment. But that can’t be true unless you also believe that kicking someone out of your home for saying “Disintegration is the best album ever” is censorship. Both examples highlight the practice of the freedom of association. But under your fallacious argument, one is legal and the other is not. So yes, you do believe — if only implicitly — that the First Amendment gives you the right to use a social media service even if it tells you to fuck all the way off.

social media platforms should not be censored (moderated), but should be a free flow of ideas and opinions. people don’t seem to understand that free speech is always, by definition speech that you may not like.

Does the idea “a gay person deserves to be put to death for being gay” deserve a place on social media? Because that is a (sadly) common belief amongst certain conservative Christian groups.

An interactive web service moderates to curate a community. Whether it wants a massive community of as many people as possible or a small community dedicated to niche interests (or to being a safe space for marginalized peoples). That service will set standards — the TOS — for the community. Anyone who violates those standards can (and likely will) be made to leave. That person can then go to any other service and bitch about whatever to whomever will listen.

Moderation builds a community. If you don’t like the community being built, go find a different one and let the one you left be free of your bullshit.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"when someone posts on social media you’re not required to read it. delete or scroll by. so a free platform with no moderation does not require that anyone listen."

No one is beholden to host a group of whining, entitled snowflakes screaming at the top of their lungs in their living room. Your idea that all the owner of that room and the guests who were invited only need to hold their ears is what i’d expect from a hypocrite who’d…meet similar abuse of hospitality with the muzzle of a gun, to remind you of your own words.

So your house is sacrosanct but the house owned by someone else isn’t. About what I’d expect from an entitled shitwit who doesn’t understand that property is something other people also get to have.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

" if you dislike someone’s opinion then scroll on by and ignore it. act like an adult and not a child"

The fun thing is that Parler is filled with whining children demanding that their opinion is more important than anyone else’s, and demanding to be heard. Usually to the height of hypocrisy when faced with opposing opinion themselves.

"social media platforms should not be censored (moderated), but should be a free flow of ideas and opinions."

Says who? I use social media to catch up with friends, family, movies and videogames. If my feed is full of racist morons trying to stir up shit because they’re offended that a black man got a major role, people should be free to show them the door without having to read racist nonsense in a story about a fucking comic book movie.

"people don’t seem to understand that free speech is always, by definition speech that you may not like."

Free speech doesn’t guarantee you an audience or a platform, and no corporation is required to even offer you free speech. Also, speech has consequences. Sometimes the consequence of what you said is for the people you just offended telling your to GTFO of their house. As is their right.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Message sent, flag of surrender noted

but insisted that it would not remove "content that attacks someone based on race, sex, sexual orientation or religion."

Barring Perler walking back this assertion(which would not go over well with it’s user base) either Apple is admitting that hate speech and harassment is not in fact against it’s ToS by this move or they’re sending the message that political pressure works and that Parler will be getting a special exemption, something that you can be sure will be raised should they go after any other apps for similar content.

Michael says:

Re: Message sent, flag of surrender noted

You’re overthinking it, and seeing a ridiculous conspiracy where there isn’t one. Apple knows it’s going to have to ban Parler again very soon, and so has laid the foundation for that banning.

This is a smart way for them to avoid saying "Fuck you" to members of Congress, while still having the same outcome.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Message sent, flag of surrender noted

Hmm, I suppose I can see that possibility though I’m not sure it’ll do them much good as the first ban for rules violations was used against them because obviously there was nothing ban worthy on Parler, so if they do it again, especially after giving Parler the green-light it’s likely to have the same result if not a worse one.

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Bloof (profile) says:

They said they had a moderation plan before, and they did, to ignore all complaints that weren’t about left leaning people trolling, this will probably have the same result, but it’ll take them a little longer to get there. They’ll delete and ban for a few months then let it all slide again, as generating fascist content is tne entire point. The thing exists to radicalise the normies, to provide them with an orchestra composed entirely of dogwhistles, if it can’t do that, it’s useless to the people funding it.

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