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Apple CEO Tim Cook says Parler could return to the App Store 'if they get their moderation together'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 1/17/2021 tlevin@businessinsider.com (Tim Levin)
Tim Cook wearing a suit and tie: Apple boss Tim Cook said Parler still has a chance to return to the App Store. Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images © Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images Apple boss Tim Cook said Parler still has a chance to return to the App Store. Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images
  • Apple may add Parler back to its App Store if the app steps up its moderation efforts, Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Fox News Sunday.
  • Apple removed Parler from its platform in the wake of the deadly Capitol siege after it found the network did not adequately police content that promotes violence. 
  • Google and Amazon also both removed Parler from their platforms. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Conservative-leaning social media app Parler could return to the Apple App Store if it steps up its moderation, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview on Fox News Sunday. 

Apple booted the app from its platform following the January 6 Capitol siege, saying at the time that the service failed to remove content that promotes violence. Google also removed the app from its store, while Amazon dropped it from its Web Services hosting platform.

The service has grown in popularity among supporters of President Donald Trump and members of the far right due to its lack of moderation. But the app will need to make some changes if it intends to see the light of day on Apple's App Store, Cook told host Chris Wallace in an interview that aired Sunday. 

"We've only suspended them," Cook said. "And so if they get their moderation together, they would be back on there."

Cook said that Apple does not see promoting violence as a form of free speech, and that the millions of apps on the company's app store need to abide by the terms of service Apple lays out. 

"We looked at the incitement to violence that was on [Parler]. And we don't consider that free speech and incitement to violence has an intersection," Cook said. "We have rules and regulations, and we just ask that people abide by those."

Parler has called its de-platforming a "coordinated attack" by the tech giants.

Read more: Apple reportedly ditching its most controversial feature in the next version of the MacBook Pro shows the company's finally listening to its customers

Big Tech has come down hard on President Trump and his supporters since rioters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in an insurrection that left five people dead. Nearly every major social media platform banned or suspended the president, and Twitter purged thousands of accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory

"It was one of the saddest moments of my life. Seeing an attack on our capitol, an attack on our democracy," Cook said of the insurrection. "I felt like I was in some sort of alternate reality, to be honest with you. This could not be happening."

Cook appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss Apple's $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, a set of projects that the CEO said aims to provide opportunity to communities of color. He said last year's police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, brought an urgency to the program. 

"We are thrilled to be able to do our part here, and we hope that more people will follow," Cook said. "I think it can be extremely transformative. I think it can make a big difference in peoples' lives, and that's why we're so excited about it."

The pledge dedicates $25 million toward launching the Propel Center, a learning hub to be constructed in Atlanta for students at historically Black colleges and universities. The tech giant also plans to open an Apple Developer Academy in downtown Detroit that will educate 1,000 students each year across coding, design, marketing, and professional skills. 

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