Enlarge /. Google's corporate headquarters.
Google has banned the conservative social media app Parler from the Play Store for Android.
In a statement to Ars, Google said it was enforcing longstanding guidelines that require social media apps to remove "monstrous content such as violent posts."
""We are aware that the Parler app will continue to be published to encourage ongoing violence in the US, "a Google spokesman told Ars." With this ongoing and urgent threat to public safety, we are suspending the app's listings in the Play Store until it addresses these issues. "
While Google did not specify which "inciting violence posts" were in mind, it is reasonable to assume that they were related to the riot on Wednesday at the US Capitol that disrupted the certification of Joe Biden's election as president. The uprising came after Trump held a rally near the White House urging his supporters to march on the Capitol.
Activists pointed to posts like this on Parler, who glorified Wednesday's violence and pledged to commit more in the coming days.
Google's Parler ban comes in the same way that mainstream social media sites have banned a number of prominent right-wing figures. On Friday, Twitter banned President Trump and former employees Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell. On the same day, Reddit banned one of its most popular pro-Trump subreddits.
The increasingly aggressive moderation efforts of social media sites have led some conservatives to look for alternatives, with Parler becoming a popular choice. And Parler drew on its reputation as the right alternative to Twitter. When I created a Parler account for myself on Friday night, Parler recommended following conservative experts and politicians like Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Devin Nunes. It also recommended the Parler accounts of the conservative website PragerU and the Babylon Bee, an onion competitor who lives up to conservative sensibilities.
However, if Parler isn't available on the Android app store, it may limit the ability to attract new conservative users. Parler's growth will be further hampered when Apple bans Parler from its own app store. John Matze, CEO of Parler, has told the media that Apple has sent Parler a letter threatening to ban the app if moderation guidelines are not changed quickly. The changes Apple is calling for, however, may run counter to the philosophy of freedom of speech that Parler has made appealing primarily to conservatives.
In a way, Parler is following in the footsteps of Gab, another right-wing social network that has been targeted by Apple and Google. Gab's profile was sharpened in 2017 when well-known internet trolls and neo-Nazis who had been bumped into other platforms flocked to Gab. Apple rejected Gab from its App Store that year, and Google pulled the app from the Play Store after initially approving it. Both companies pointed to the app's inadequate protective measures against hate speech. Gab eventually joined the open social network Mastadon and caused controversy there.