Apple is reportedly allowing the “free speech” social networking service Parler to return to the App Store, but it may not be alone. We’re told that the only thing keeping Parler off of Google’s Play Store is… well, Parler. The app can apparently come back to Android’s biggest app platform just as soon as a version that complies with Play Store policies is submitted.
For a bit of context, both the App Store and Play Store kicked Parler to the curb in the wake of the insurrection against the U.S. Capitol by far-right extremists, which resulted in the deaths of five people. At the time, Apple and others cited evidence indicating that Parler was used to organize the attack, and several other examples of incitement of violence, derogatory terms, and “Nazi symbols” were found on the platform upon further review, violating the policies apps must adhere to in order to be distributed on the platform. Other companies like Amazon also piled on with their own bans for back-end services.
When news that Apple would allow Parler to return to the App Store landed earlier today, we reached out to Google regarding a return to the Play Store, and a company spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
“Parler has remained available on Android because of the openness of the platform even if it isn’t currently distributed through Google Play. As we stated back in January, Parler is welcome back in the Play store once it submits an app that complies with our policies.”
In short, we’re told that Google would allow Parler back on the Play Store just as soon as a version of the app that doesn’t violate Play Store policies is submitted, and no such version of the app has been submitted yet. The ball is in Parler’s court.
The spokesperson also rightly pointed out that a Play Store ban does not prevent Android users from accessing Parler’s app. Unlike iPhones, Android devices can side-load applications from any source for separate standalone installation. That does mean updates are a bit of a pain, but it means you can get your apps wherever you want (unlike on an iPhone), and Parler continues to distribute a version of its Android app through its own website. This also ignores third-party app stores like Amazon’s and Samsung’s, which Parler could choose to distribute through.