By Tim Higgins and Keach Hagey 

Breaking News:

* Amazon Suspends Parler Over Terms of Service Violation

*Amazon Says Parler Posts Inciting Violence Represent Terms of Service Violation

*Amazon Says Parler's Lack of Content Moderation Poses 'Very Real Risk to Public Safety'

*Amazon Says Parler Account to Be Suspended Sunday at 11:59 PM Pacific Time

*Amazon Says It Will Preserve Parler Data for The Company To Migrate to Own Servers

(Article below will update)

Apple Inc. has suspended Parler from the App Store amid concerns the app's owner hasn't done enough to address threats of violence on the platform.

"We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity," Apple said in a statement Saturday. "Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people's safety."

The App Store is the only means to download mobile apps on Apple devices, and Parler's removal means the app can't be downloaded on devices where it isn't already present or updated on devices where it is. Apple's move comes a day after Alphabet Inc.'s Google suspended Parler from its Play Store app marketplace, citing violations of requirements for sufficient moderation of content for apps it distributes.

Interest in Parler has risen since the November U.S. elections as larger social-network operators such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have become more aggressive in policing content. On Friday, Twitter banned President Trump's personal account, sparking criticism from conservatives online who felt the effort was biased against them.

Parler has positioned itself as an alternative to larger platforms. Its rules don't prohibit hate speech and false information while banning spam, threats of violence and other illegal activity. Chief Executive John Matze had said he believed the company's rules met Apple's policies against content that incites violence.

Before Saturday, the iPhone maker had given Parler 24 hours to submit a plan to improve the app, which it said wasn't effectively moderating and removing content that encouraged illegal activity and posed a risk to user safety.

Jeffrey Wernick, chief operating officer of Parler, said the company presented Apple with a plan to strengthen its moderating capabilities, but Apple ultimately said those were insufficient.

Parler had told Apple in recent meetings that it had doubled its team of volunteer moderators -- called "jurors" -- to more than a thousand in the last few days and instructed them to search "hot" hashtags for incitement, a more proactive approach than Parler had used previously, Mr. Wernick said.

The company also had instructed its jurors to hunt down any content suggesting violence within the comment sections of its more highly trafficked sections and planned to hire employees to bolster these efforts, according to Amy Peikoff, Parler's chief policy officer.

Apple told Parler that the company had to demonstrate the "ability to effectively moderate and filter the dangerous and harmful content" on the service, according to the latest app notice.

The decision comes as big tech companies are under scrutiny in Washington for the power they hold over their digital worlds. Apple has been accused by some lawmakers of anticompetitive behavior in how it operates its App Store. Apple has denied such claims.

On Saturday, Mr. Matze leaned into such criticism in a post on Parler, calling Apple a monopoly that "provides no alternatives to installing apps on your phone other than their store."

Parler experienced a huge surge of interest on Friday, the day Apple and Google made moves to limit its reach, driving it to the top spot on Apple's App Store. Mr. Wernick said this surge in traffic overloaded the company's servers and made it impossible for them to respond to alerts about problematic content fast enough.

"They picked a time yesterday when we had a huge spurt and gave us no time to adequately respond to this," Mr. Wernick said. "At this point, it seems like bad faith to me."

Write to Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com and Keach Hagey at keach.hagey@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 09, 2021 22:10 ET (03:10 GMT)

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