Google bans Talk, Apple threatens app after pro-Trump violence

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Speak, the social media app popular among Trump loyalists and right-wingers, was pulled from the Google Play Store on Friday evening – with the internet giant saying Speak failed to remove “blatant content like messages inciting violence ”.
Also on Friday, Apple warned Speak, which touts itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter or Facebook, that the app risks an App Store ban within 24 hours if it doesn’t remove the content. which “encourages illegal activities”. Speak was the # 1 trending app on Apple’s App Store on Saturday morning in the news category.

The move came as Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump, citing the potential risk that the lame and wronged president will instigate further violence among his supporters. Trump’s accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch and other platforms have also been blocked indefinitely or permanently after his role in organizing and supporting the insurgent mob that occupied the U.S. Capitol on January 6 during of a deadly confrontation with the police.

In a statement, Google said that “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 like messages inciting violence. He continued, “We are aware of the continued publication in the Speak app which seeks to incite continued violence in the United States” and said: “In light of this continuing and urgent security threat public, we are suspending the Play Store app listings. until he fixes these problems. ”

The Google Play ban reduces the visibility of Parler, but due to Android’s open architecture, this version of the app is still available for direct download from the Parler website. Apple’s removal of Talking for iOS would be a bigger hit, given that the tech colossus’s App Store is the only way to get apps for its iPhone and iPad devices (although users who have already installed the iOS app could still use it (following removal from the App Store).

Parler founder and CEO John Matze, in a post on the app on Friday, denounced the tech giants’ actions, accusing them of double standards. “Standards that are not applied to Twitter, Facebook, or even Apple themselves, apply to Speak,” he wrote. Matze said that Talking’s community guidelines prohibit violent speech (including “threats of violence” and “advocacy for imminent lawless action”) and asserted that the company had always followed those rules.

« [W]e will NOT give in to politically motivated companies and authoritarians who hate free speech! Wrote Matze. According to the executive, “Most of the people on Parler are non-violent people who want to share their opinions, food photos and more.”

Matze also posted a screenshot in the app of Apple’s notice to the company describing “serious violations of App Store guidelines.”

“We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all user-generated content on your service and to ensure that this content meets the App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users, ”says Apple’s January 8 notice. “We will not distribute apps with dangerous and harmful content. ”

By Apple’s logic, Matze argued, Apple “must be responsible for ALL actions” taken by customers of their phones, including “every car bomb, every illegal cell phone conversation, every illegal crime committed on a cell phone. an iPhone. ” He also claimed that Google had not sent Parler an explanation as to why it decided to ban the app before the Play Store was removed.

Founded in 2018, Parler boasts of its practical approach to moderation, unlike policing reinforced by traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

While Trump himself currently does not have an account on Talk, his son Donald Trump Jr. is active on the app, as are right-wing figures like Fox News’s Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and Rep. Devin Nunes ( R-Calif.).

“Speak freely and speak out openly, without fear of being ‘misrepresented’ for your views,” the company says on its website. “Engage with real people, not robots. Talking focuses on people and privacy, and gives you the tools you need to organize your Talking experience. “

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