The social network, which caters to conservatives, Trump supporters, and various other right-wing cranks and bigots, branded itself as a censorship-free site that would only remove illegal posts and liberal trolls. It predictably became a hive of death and rape threats against Democrats, racist diatribes, and pro-Trump conspiracy theories. Parler was subsequently booted off of its Amazon web hosting and Apple’s and Google’s respective app stores in January after numerous Parler users were implicated as involved pro-Trump riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6, where five people died.
Parler was forced offline for weeks as a result, returning late last month with promises of better moderation (ones to be extremely skeptical of, given the site’s majority investor and GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer used the opportunity to fire CEO John Matze and replace him with a Tea Party activist). Amid all this, Parler fell flat on its face in a doomed antitrust lawsuit against Amazon portraying itself as the victim. It doesn’t appear to be doing much better in its quest to get back on the App Store, per Bloomberg, which reported on Wednesday that Apple rejected Parler’s appeal to return to the App Store on Feb. 25.
According to Bloomberg, Apple staff wrote in a letter to Parler that it didn’t believe the app’s revamp contained any meaningful moderation changes and that it still considered it overrun with “hateful, racist, [and] discriminatory” content:
“After having reviewed the new information, we do not believe these changes are sufficient to comply with App Store Review guidelines” Apple wrote to Parler’s chief policy officer on Feb. 25. “There is no place for hateful, racist, discriminatory content on the App Store.”
Apple included several screenshots to support the rejection. Some screenshots, reviewed by Bloomberg, show user profile pictures with swastikas and other white nationalist imagery, and user names and posts that are misogynistic, homophobic and racist.
Apple left open the possibility that Parler could return to the App Store in the future if it complies with its guidelines but left it fairly clear that Parler was nowhere close to doing so.
“As you know, developers are required to implement robust moderation capabilities to proactively identify, prevent and filter this objectionable content to protect the health and safety of users,” Apple wrote in the letter obtained by Bloomberg. “... In fact, simple searches reveal highly objectionable content, including easily identified offensive uses of derogatory terms regarding race, religion and sexual orientation, as well as Nazi symbols. For these reasons your app cannot be returned to the App Store for distribution until it complies with the guidelines.”
Parler reportedly fired (or canceled, one might jeer) the three iOS developers it still had on staff as well as four other employees on Wednesday, a source told on Bloomberg, indicating that it has likely given up on ever getting back on iOS.
According to the Washington Post, Parler’s new CEO, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, had previously expressed confidence that Parler’s app would return to iOS. However, he also said the company had no interest in appeasing the moderators at Google’s Play Store, as it is far easier to sideload apps on Android.