Google said it was suspending US microblogging and social networking service Parler's mobile app, used by US President Donald Trump's supporters instead of Twitter, from Play Store, The Verge reported.
After the USA presidential election in November, Trump supporters flocked to alternative social networks, including Parler, to plan election protests after Facebook and other sites banned groups that pushed debunked conspiracy theories.
"In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence", a Google spokesperson said in a statement. It surged in popularity following November's USA presidential election, partially in response to the increased fact-checking by Twitter and Facebook on posts from Donald Trump and other high-ranking Republicans.
The Parler social network has become a haven for far-right personalities who say they have been censored by other social media platforms.
Users can still access Parler through its website and the app can still be installed on Android by sideloading the APK, but the removal of the app from the Play Store - and soon, the Apple App Store - will significantly limit its reach.
According to a report by BuzzFeed News, Apple sent Parler an email threatening to make a similar move. On the other hand, Google has gone ahead and removed the Parler app from the Play Store effective immediately.
Parler is one of the hottest apps in the world, a social network that has attracted millions of conservatives over the past year with its hands-off approach to policing users' posts.
In an emailed statement, Google confirmed that "i$3 n light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat", it has suspended the app's listing until Parler beefs up its moderation policies to keep that kind of "egregious content" off its platform.
Apple and Google were both seeking updates to Parler's moderation policies.
Parler saw approximately 210,000 installs globally on Friday 1/8, up 281% from approximately 55,000 on 1/7, according to data from the analytics service Sensor Tower.
Favored by alt-right and conservative voices, the app surged to the top of App Store download lists in recent months, as Twitter and Facebook pushed back against harsh rhetoric by banning and suspending accounts. "We won't distribute apps that present unsafe and harmful content".
Those who have joined include commentator Candace Owens, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who handcuffed herself to the door of Twitter's NY office in November 2018 to protest a ban on her by the site. He went on to accuse the companies of applying standards to Parler that they don't apply to their own services.