In the wake of the January 6 US Capitol storming, tech companies have taken unprecedented steps against a sitting president of the United States to stem what they describe as risk of violence. Twitter has permanently banned Trump, and Facebook has banned his account until at least the transition to the Joe Biden presidency ends. Now, Apple and Google are taking steps to undermine other parts of the right wing ecosystem they see as instrumental in inciting the violence at the US Capitol and subsequent unrest. Apple has sent the social media network Parler — which has markedly lax rules around policing content — and warned it that if it did not come up with a moderation policy, it would be removed from the App Store, BuzzFeed News reported.
Google, Reddit, Discord, Shopify take action
Google has gone one step further, removing the Parler app from the Play Store until the company “implement[s] robust moderation for egregious content”, Axios reported. Parler has been a favourite of conservative and alt-right users who would normally be suspended from websites with relatively more involved moderation like Twitter. Google and Apple took these steps after death threats and other incitements to violence appeared to surface on Parler.
Reddit, the hugely popular link-sharing and discussion website, has banned the DonaldTrump subreddit, Axios reported. “Reddit’s site-wide policies prohibit content that promotes hate, or encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence against groups of people or individuals,” a Reddit spokesperson reportedly told Axios. The Slack-esque gaming-focused chatting platform Discord has also banned a large pro-Trump server, Casey Newton reported, quoting a spokesperson as saying that the decision was taken “due to [the server’s] overt connection to an online forum used to incite violence and plan an armed insurrection.”
Shopify also took down two e-commerce storefronts run by Trump’s campaign team, TechCrunch reported. “We have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause,” a Shopify spokesperson reportedly told the publication.
These actions come as Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress are moving to impeach Trump for inciting the storming of the Capitol.