After banishing the social media platform Parler from its App Store because of concerns about inciting violence, Apple said Monday it was ready to reinstate Parler, the app popular with supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Apple removed Parler amid complaints that Parler had allowed content on its platform that was used to coordinate and facilitate illegal activity during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
While Apple defended its earlier ban as the right decision, it told lawmakers it is preparing for Parler‘s return.
Parler has since made changes to its app, Timothy Powderly, Apple government affairs senior director, said in a letter to Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, and Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado Republican.
“In the period since Apple removed the Parler app from the App Store, Apple‘s App Review Team has engaged in substantial conversations with Parler in an effort to bring the Parler app into compliance with the Guidelines and reinstate it in the App Store,” Mr. Powderly told the two Republican lawmakers.
“As a result of those conversations, Parler has proposed updates to its app and the app’s content moderation practices, and the App Review Team has informed Parler as of April 14, 2021, that its proposed updated app will be approved for reinstatement to the App Store,” he wrote.
Mr. Powderly said Apple expects the updated Parler app to become available as soon as Parler releases its updated version.
Mr. Buck published the letter on Twitter and called Apple‘s decision a “huge win for free speech.”
Parler did not respond to request for comment Monday.
Parler became popular with conservatives during the 2020 election season as major social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook vigorously censored content, overwhelmingly right-wing speech and press, conservatives said.
After the Jan. 6 riot, Apple and Google removed the Parler app from their app stores and Amazon Web Services took Parler offline. Parler has since returned to the web.
Mr. Powderly told lawmakers that Apple‘s decision to remove Parler was “independent” of Amazon and Google’s actions and that Apple stands by its decision.
Mr. Buck and Mr. Lee also wrote letters to Amazon and Google, which have not restored their services to Parler.
Google told the lawmakers that Parler remains suspended for failing to comply with its policies.
“Other developers, including developers of apps identifying themselves as protective of free speech principles, have demonstrated they can protect free speech while complying with our policies,” wrote Mark Isakowitz, Google vice president of government affairs and public policy, in a letter to lawmakers published by Mr. Lee. “If and when Parler expresses an interest in doing so, we stand ready to re-engage with them.”
Amazon told Mr. Lee and Mr. Buck that it did not coordinate with Apple or Google in making its decision against Parler, and the company said Amazon Web Services’ trust and safety team notified Parler in November 2020 of content violating Amazon Web Services’ terms.
Precisely how Jan. 6 rioters used various social media platforms before and during the attack on the Capitol remains a matter of ongoing scrutiny from federal lawmakers.
At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter accepted some responsibility for the riot.
Rep. Mike Doyle, Pennsylvania Democrat, asked Mr. Dorsey and Facebook and Google’s CEOs whether their companies had some responsibility for fomenting the riot. Facebook and Google declined to answer.
“Yes, but you also have to take into consideration a broader ecosystem,” Mr. Dorsey told Mr. Doyle. “It’s not just about the technology platforms that were used.”
Following Mr. Dorsey’s concession, Parler told Congress that it referred violent content on its platform to the FBI more than 50 times in advance of the Jan. 6 riot.
Parler revealed its contacts to federal law enforcement in a letter to House Oversight Committee chair Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, after she requested that the company provide information and financial documentation to Congress following the riot.