Apple will reinstate Parler on its App Store following its multi-month ban, according to a letter Apple has sent to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck, which was made public this morning via a post on Congressman Buck’s Twitter. TechCrunch also obtained the letter and confirmed with Apple directly. The lawmakers had earlier written to Apple on March 31, 2021 to ask for additional information about why the app, which is heavily favored by conservatives, had been removed from the App Store. Apple’s response explains how Parler violated its policies but said it [Apple] has engaged in extensive conversions with Parler’s team since the app’s removal. It also says Parler’s proposed updates to the app, its content and its moderation practices will allow it to be approved for reinstatement to the App Store immediately update its release.
Apple was one of several tech platforms that banned Parler following the Capitol riot, after it came to light how the app had been used by Trump supporters and other far-right users to call for violence and organize their plans to storm the Capitol. The insurrection left five people dead, more than 140 police officers injured and resulted in hundreds of arrests.
In Apple’s case, the company had first given Parler notice the app would be removed unless the company submitted a content moderation improvement plan. But Parler’s then-CEO John Matze posted to his own Parler account that he would not cave to Apple’s ultimatums and the app, having failed to meet Apple’s requirements, was banned. In the weeks that followed, Matze was fired by Parler’s board, controlled by Republican Party donor Rebekah Mercer.
Parler has been working to obtain re-entry to the App Store since its removal, but those efforts continued to fall short. Bloomberg reported last month, for example, that Parler had submitted new guidelines in February that were insufficient to comply with the App Store rules due to issues with violating content. That letter, addressed to Parler’s chief policy officer on February 25, stated: “There is no place for hateful, racist, discriminatory content on the App Store.”
According to Apple’s new letter, released today, things have changed. It says that Apple has now informed Parler as of April 14, 2021 that its proposed moderation practices will qualify it for reinstatement. The letter, signed by Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director of Government Affairs in the Americas, says:
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.
The letter also notes that it did not consult with Google or Amazon in respect to its original decision to remove Parler — a response meant to put to rest the false claims of a coordinated effort between tech giants to silence conservatives.
Apple did not detail what specific changes Parler had agreed to, but earlier this year, the app was still non-compliant with Apple’s guidelines for allowing user profile pictures that featured swastikas and white nationalist imagery, and because it had permitted usernames and posts that were misogynistic, homophobic and racist, Bloomberg said at the time.
Apple’s letter, first reported this morning by CNN, indicates Parler will be approved immediately when submitted.
Apple also told TechCrunch the app’s relaunch time frame will be up to Parler to decide, but offered no additional comment.