Google has removed today Parler, a social media networking app for right-wing supporters, from the official Play Store after evidence surfaced online that its members were openly planning acts of violence against law enforcement members and in preparation for the upcoming Biden inauguration ceremony.
"In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence," a Google spokesperson told ZDNet today.
"All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months.
"We're aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US. We recognize that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content.
"In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app's listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues," the spokesperson said.
Google's decision was, however, not a surprise for most in the tech scene. Rumors started circulating earlier this morning that both Apple and Google were considering bans due to the recent content shared on the Parler social network and its role in organizing the recent Capitol riot.
Earlier today, several tech news outlets reported that Apple had already issued a 24-hour warning to the Parler app, asking its staff to implement a content moderation policy or face a suspension from the App Store.
But by the time Google made its decision today, the wave of bans against online right-wing groups and communities was well underway, including bans against accounts operated by US President Donald Trump, accused of inciting this week's Capitol riot.
Google's Play Store suspension for the Parler app joins a list of bans that also includes:
- Twitter - Donald Trump's personal account, along with accounts of several right-wing political figures and QAnon leaders.
- Facebook, Instagram - Donald Trump's personal account.
- Twitch - Donald Trump's personal account.
- Discord - account of The Donald, an online forum where right-wing users were seen organizing future acts of violents in support of Donald Trump.
- Reddit - the subreddit r/DonaldTrump due to repeated policy violations regarding violent content.
- YouTube - restriction on channels that post misinformation on 2020 election.
- Shopify - removes several official Trump stores.
However, today's Play Store ban doesn't mean the Parler app will stop working. The app will continue to operate on the phones of users who already installed, and new users can download new versions of the app from other third-party stores.