Apple, facing an antitrust hearing on Capitol Hill this week, announced Monday that Parler will be back on the App Store after nearly four months of absence.
Apple Inc. will publish the Parler social media app in the App Store again after an almost four-month absence, the iPhone manufacturer told US government officials in advance of an antitrust hearing in Congress earlier this week.
The Cupertino, California-based tech giant announced this in a letter to Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, and Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado. The social media app was removed from the app store in January after being one of the online networks used to instigate violence at the Washington Capitol. At the time, Apple said it had pulled the app for violating content policies and was considering restoring the service if Parler made changes to more moderated content.
Apple said in the letter to government officials that it had found articles on Parler that “promoted violence, denounced various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism and incited violence”. Since the initial rejection, as well as the rejection of other updates, Apple has “had extensive discussions with Parler to bring the Parler app in line with the guidelines and to restore it to the App Store,” the company said in the letter.
As Parler proposed changes to the way content is moderated, Apple announced on April 14 that it would approve an upcoming update. The letter did not mention the changes, but it did indicate that apps must filter “objectionable material”, allow users to report objectionable content, block “abusive users” and list contact information so that users can reach them Developer.
In Monday’s letter, penned by Senior Director of Government Affairs for America, Timothy Powderly, Apple said that it originally decided to independently remove Parler and that it did not coordinate with Google or Amazon.com Inc. . Google also removed Parler from its app store. Amazon has prevented Parler from using its cloud service.
Apple’s decision to reinstate Parler is before a hearing on Wednesday held by the Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsored by Senator Lee and Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat. Kyle Andeer, Apple’s chief compliance officer, will speak at the hearing, the company said earlier this month.
“Apple’s power over the cost, distribution and availability of mobile applications on Apple devices used by millions of consumers creates serious competition issues of concern to the subcommittee, consumers and app developers” the Senators wrote to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook prior to the hearing. “A full and fair consideration of these questions by the subcommittee requires Apple’s participation.”
(Updates with additional context from the letter in the fourth paragraph.)