Apple to allow Parler back on the iPhone App Store after the social network was removed for violent content

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CEO Tim Cook speaks at an Apple event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, September 10, 2019.Stephen Lam | Reuters

Apple will allow controversial social media app Parler back onto iPhone App Store, according to a letter released by Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.)

Apple removed the app in January after Parler was used to publicize the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot when the app’s content featured calls for violence and other illegal activity.

Parler has updated its app and improved its content moderation, an Apple official wrote in the letter. As of April 14, Apple’s App Review department had approved the changes and that an updated version of Parler will be approved by Apple, the letter said.

“Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it,” Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director for government affairs wrote in the letter addressed to Buck and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah.)

Buck said in a tweet that the decision was a “huge win for free speech.” The Parler app was not available for download on an iPhone on Monday morning and Parler didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Parler is a social network that competes with companies like Twitter and Facebook. It was initially advertised as a website and app with an emphasis on “free speech” and significantly less content moderation. It was popular with people who supported former President Donald Trump.

Apple said it removed Parler because the app violated Apple’s app guidelines around violent content and that it was not a permanent ban, only a suspension, and could be “cured” if Parler added moderation and removed violent content. Apple said in its letter that over 30,000 apps had been removed in 2020 for issues with objectionable user-generated content.

“And so, if they get their moderation together, they would be back on there,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Fox News in January.

Apple’s App Store rules have been a focus of regulators and lawmakers who say that they raise competition concerns because the app store is the only way for most users to install software on an iPhone. Last week, Apple agreed to send