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Parler denied re-entry into App Store — here's what Apple says

Parler app App Store
(Image credit: Olvier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Apple won't let the conservative social-media app Parler back into the App Store because Parler hasn't cleaned up its act enough, documents obtained by Bloomberg News and The Input show.

"After having reviewed the new information, we do not believe these changes are sufficient to comply with App Store Review Guidelines 1.1 Objectionable Content and 1.2 User Generated Content," an email sent by Apple on Feb. 25 to Parler Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff and seen by both outlets stated.

The email was in response to an application for reinstatement in the App Store. Apple had earlier told Parler that it might do so if the app changed its moderation policies to eliminate hateful content.

"It is clear from your stated moderation policies and from review of your app, that your moderation practices are insufficient to comply with the App Store Review Guidelines," the email added. 

"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," the email reportedly said. 

The Input posted a gallery of the images that Apple was said to have attached to the email as supporting evidence. They depict screenshots, taken on an iPhone running the Parler app, of search results for several derogatory terms and Nazi-associated images and phrases. 

There are few hard timestamps on the screenshots and we can't tell exactly when most of them were captured, but they seem to clearly show that Parler is not taking down a lot of racist, homophobic and Nazi-oriented content.

Bloomberg News reported that yesterday (March 10), Parler laid off its three remaining iOS developers.

Parler not giving up

Nevertheless, Parler plans to keep fighting for reinstatement in the App Store.

"Parler expects and hopes to keep working with Apple to return to the App Store," Peikoff said in a statement given to The Verge and the New York Post

"We're optimistic that Apple will continue to differentiate itself from other 'Big Tech' companies by supporting its customers' choice to 'think different' — to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms of thought, speech, and association — while using Apple products."

Parler was kicked out of the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store the weekend following the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. that saw thousands of angry supporters of former President Trump storm the Capitol while Congress was in session. On Jan. 10, Amazon shut down the leased servers running the Parler apps and website.

Before the site was taken offline, activist hackers managed to archive nearly all the publicly available posts made by Parler users, a total of 70TB of data. 

The Parler site has been relaunched on a different hosting service, and the website has instructions on how to sideload the Android app. Judging by the screenshots purportedly provided by Apple, the Parler iOS app still seems to function properly, although it won't be getting any new users until Apple restores it to the App Store.

Paul Wagenseil
Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. That's all he's going to tell you unless you meet him in person.