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8 Jan, 2021 18:36

Sleeping Giants demand Google & Apple pull Parler app from stores over ‘incitement’ to violence

Sleeping Giants demand Google & Apple pull Parler app from stores over ‘incitement’ to violence

Online activist group Sleeping Giants has demanded Apple and Google remove Twitter alternative Parler from their app stores, insisting it violates their policies on incitement to violence. But they’ve given other apps a pass.

Google’s Play Store bans apps that “depict or facilitate gratuitous violence or other dangerous activities,” including “graphic depictions or descriptions of realistic violence or violent threats to any person or animal,” Sleeping Giants posted on Twitter on Friday, insisting Parler had run afoul of these guidelines. 

The group complained that Parler wasn’t following Google’s rules on “bullying and harassment,” though it wasn’t entirely clear which of those rules Parler had supposedly broken. “Bullying victims of international or religious conflicts,” blackmail/extortion, “posting content in order to humiliate someone publicly,” and “harassing victims, or their friends and families, of a tragic event” are declared off limits according to the policy.

Rules against “promot[ing] violence, or incit[ing] hatred against individuals or groups” based on protected characteristics like ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or age were also thrust into the Play Store’s face, with Sleeping Giants reminding the company that Google “created these rules *themselves*” and thus has no excuse for not enforcing them.

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Apple, too, got the public shaming treatment, with Sleeping Giants complaining it lacks a means of filtering “objectionable material” and a way to “report offensive content and timely responses to concerns” as required by the App Store’s own guidelines. 

Posting a few screenshots of Parler content and insisting “this isn’t free speech. This is a real threat,” Sleeping Giants reminded both companies that it had gotten Gab — another right-leaning microblogging platform for those booted off Twitter —  removed from both Play Store and App Store in 2017 for related reasons. 

Insisting that “words matter,” the group lamented that “Calls to violence turn into real violence.” 

However, many on social media pointed out that Parler’s supposed crimes had been committed by Facebook and Twitter too, crying foul at Sleeping Giants’ double standards. “By this very same metric, Twitter should also be pulled, no?” one user asked.

Users post violent and hateful content to Facebook and Twitter all the time, they argued — and no one was demanding those platforms get the boot from the app stores.

Others skipped the pleasantries and went straight to accusations of totalitarianism.

Parler — along with Facebook and Twitter — has been blamed for inciting a mob of apparent Trump supporters to burst into the Capitol while Electoral College votes were being tallied on Wednesday. Many of the demonstration’s leaders had already been kicked off larger social media platforms and thus communicated via Parler. Five people died amidst the rioting, which has been used to demand further censorship on social media.

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