Apple approved an important update to the Parler social media app last night following a delay of a week, which Parler attributes to the tech giant’s questioning of the platform’s free speech values.
Free-speech centered social media app Parler recently attempted to roll out an update to their iPhone app, a common event that many app developers do on a regular basis to add new features, fix bugs, update app elements, etc. But Parler found their update stopped dead in its track as Apple stated that it would have to review the app to determine if the update would be allowed to go ahead.
After Parler attempted to launch the update, company CEO John Matze says he was contacted by an Apple employee via the App Store Connect portal. The employee explained that the Parler app was likely in violation of the App store rule 1.1.1 which prohibits:
Defamatory, discriminatory, or mean-spirited content, including references or commentary about religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, national/ethnic origin, or other targeted groups, particularly if the app is likely to humiliate, intimidate, or place a targeted individual or group in harm’s way. Professional political satirists and humorists are generally exempt from this requirement.
The employee allegedly told Matze that a review board would have to discuss Parler’s status and asked whether the app bans posts or users on the platform for breaking Apples 1.1.1 term. Matze replied: “No. We are giving users the tools in order to allow them to automatically filter out content they deem hateful or that might violate 1.1.1 but we want to uphold free speech rooted in the first amendment of the United States.” Matze claims that the employee stated that this approach could be a problem.
The update to the Parler app held up by Apple’s review process included new Arabic language support, Post/Comment translation buttons, an in-feed comment preview tool, and a number of bug fixes. The translation features were released successfully on Google’s Android app store and only took two hours to be approved, while it took over a week for Apple to decide whether or not the update should be allowed.
It wasn’t until Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a tweet by political commentator Ryan Fournier that there was a sudden change in Apple’s handling of the situation. The tweet from Fournier can be seen below:
BREAKING NEWS: Apple is threatening to kick Parler off the App Store if the app does not ban “offensive” content.
Apple just wants Parler to ban conservative content!
RT and call Apple at +1 (408) 974-2992 to demand answers!
Follow me for updates —> https://t.co/USHcsosVBj
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) June 25, 2019
Last night, the app update was finally approved the delay. Parler CEO John Matze believes that there are two reasons that Apple took so long to approve the update. He stated: “There is a community of moderate conservatives talking without control of a major tech company. Twitter is losing their market share and they want to hurt us. We are a serious threat to Twitter and big tech’s control over the leftist narrative. We are about to cross 500k users.”
The second reason, according to Matze is:
Stalling the updates is a method they are using to hurt our ability to update users experience and slow our growth without giving them the bad PR associated with taking us off the store. They know that 140k iPhone users in Saudi need this update and 90% of Saudi is primarily on iOS. The longer they stall, the more angry American users will get at the Saudies because the Americans cannot understand their Arabic text.
More hate will be generated on Parler artificially due to slowing this update and more negative publicity for Parler. You can see in the enclosed screenshot the numbers. I honestly believe they are protecting Twitter after Parler took 2% of Twitter’s market share in Saudi overnight.
Matze included a photo showing Parler’s iPhone app downloads across a number of countries:
Apple has not yet replied to a request for comment.