In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our long-standing policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and an app that removes blatant content such as posts that incite violence. All developers agree to these terms and we’ve reminded Talk about this clear policy in recent months. We are aware of the continued publication in the Speak app which seeks to incite continued violence in the U.S. We recognize that there may be reasonable debate about content policies and that it may be difficult for them apps to immediately remove any violent content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we require apps to implement robust moderation for blatant content. In light of this ongoing and urgent threat to public safety, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it resolves these issues.
With the suspension, Talk is no longer available in Google Play, although people who have already installed the app can continue to use it.
Apple also threatened to ban if the company did not get a handle on violent threats. Apple emailed Parler CEO John Matze saying “Talking does not effectively moderate or remove content that encourages illegal activity.” BuzzFeed News reported. The iPhone maker gave him 24 hours to create a “moderation improvement plan”. Matze has previously said he does not agree with the moderation practices of other platforms.
“Apparently they believe Parler is responsible for ALL user-generated content on Parler,” Matze wrote in answer posted on Speak. “Therefore [sic] by the same logic, Apple should be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones. “
Talk, who stung in popularity after the November election, as Twitter and Facebook cracked down on election misinformation, has been called out for his role in the violence in Washington this week. Apple said in its letter that it has “received numerous complaints of objectionable content in your Talk service, accusations that the Talk app was used to plan, coordinate and facilitate illegal activity in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 which resulted in leads (among other things) to death, numerous injuries and destruction of property. ”
UPDATE: Calls for violence on Talking are getting much worse.
There are now open calls for the killing of police officers and planning for violence on January 20
– Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) January 8, 2021
Users also turned to the app in the days following the riot to make ominous and violent threats on future projects. Screenshots of individuals calling for “Firing squads” and threatening an armed response to Joe Biden’s inauguration circulated on Twitter, along with calls for Apple and Google to ban the application. (Notably, Twitter city “Plans for future armed demonstrations” in its decision to permanently suspend Asset.)
When pressed by The New York Times This week, Matze – who in the past has denounced the “censorship” of Twitter and Facebook – repeatedly insisted that he had not observed Parler users using the app for illegal purposes. “If people break the law, break our terms of service, or do anything illegal, we would definitely be involved,” Matze said. “But if people are just trying to get together or plan an event… there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. Parler did not respond to a request for comment.
As The edge points out, the two companies have already withdrawn applications associated with the far right. Gab chat app deleted from Google Play for hate speech in 2017. And Apple started Alex Jones’ InfoWars app in 2018 (Google removed the app llast year to spread disinformation about the coronavirus).
This story has been updated with a statement from Google.