CBS4 Denver reports that Rep. Ken Buck is ebullient over a recent agreement between Apple and the Colorado-connected developers of the “free speech” social media platform Parler to allow the app once again in the App Store, after being removed in the immediate aftermath of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol:
Colorado Congressman Ken Buck applauded a decision to reinstate the Parler App in Apple’s app store. Buck and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent a letter to Apple in March “demanding answers about why Apple removed Parler from the App Store.”
In the letter to Buck and Lee, Apple says it reached out to Parler developers to discuss their violations of Apple’s guidelines on Jan. 8.
“The volume and types of prohibited content available in the Parler app further indicated that Parler also was out of compliance with Guideline 1.2 since their moderation practices were clearly inadequate to protect users from this harmful and dangerous content,” Apple stated in the letter.
Over subsequent weeks, as CNN reports, Parler has reportedly made changes to satisfy Apple’s requirements that their privately-owned commercial systems not be used for such dangerous purposes as coordinating and managing an assault on the U.S. Capitol:
The letter — addressed to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck and obtained by CNN — explained that since the app was removed from Apple’s platform in January for violations of its policies, Parler “has proposed updates to its app and the app’s content moderation practices.”
…Apple declined to comment. In a statement Monday evening, Parler said it planned to relaunch on Apple’s app store the week of April 26. The Apple version of Parler will block some posts that are permitted on Parler more generally, but those posts will remain accessible on Parler for Android and on the web, Parler said.
Curiously, Rep. Buck completely omits any mention of changes made by Parler to satisfy Apple’s requirements, simply suggesting that his letter to Apple on Parler’s behalf led to Apple dropping its objections to Parler on their service. Far from it–Apple, a corporate interest more concerned about liability than politics, is requiring that the Parler app on its platform block content that may still be available on the Parler network through other devices.
“Apple’s decision to reinstate Parler on the App Store is a huge win for free speech,” Buck said. “I am proud of the work that Senator Lee and I were able to accomplish here. It’s time for Amazon and Google to follow Apple’s lead and stop the censorship of Parler.”
Wherever you land in the debate over free speech versus corporate subsidy of speech, which are two separate issues that become much harder to sort out in today’s digital age of mass social media communications, the fact is that Buck is dead wrong to call this a “win for free speech” in the laissez faire manner he suggests. Parler is making a major concession to Apple to prevent Parler from putting Apple in the position of subsidizing violence.
What this is is a win for responsible speech and responsible corporate citizenship, albeit limited to Apple’s corporate domain. Once you know the full facts, it’s basically the opposite of what Buck thinks he is celebrating.
But at least we can all celebrate together.