Explainer: How to Work Around App Store Censorship on Mobile Devices

Several Chinese iPhone users have claimed that their handsets caught fire or exploded, according to a Shanghai consumer watchdog
AFP/File Johannes Eisele

Following the removal of alternative social media sites such as Parler and Gab from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, many have been left thinking they unable to access these platforms on their mobile devices. Here is how to easily access them whether you use an iPhone and Android device.

With Big Tech censorship ramping up in the wake of the election, multiple alternative social media platforms have been removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Some sites have even been taken offline entirely, such as Parler which was recently taken down after its web hosting provider, Amazon Web Services, terminated the site’s account. This censorship predates the election, Gab, for example, was removed from both app stores in 2019, but the level of censorship by Google and Apple is increasing and is likely to impact more apps beyond the social media space.

While the Big Tech Masters of the Universe may prefer their vast userbases to think social media platforms are not accessible without an official app, this is simply not true. Users have options to share their opinions which vary slightly between the two platforms.
Breitbart Tech has gathered together instructions on the two best ways to access platforms that Silicon Valley would prefer you didn’t:

Android “Sideloading”

Google’s Android operating system allows users to load apps without accessing the Google Play Store. This option is disabled by default on your phone, but can be activated by following the process outlined here.

The most important thing to keep in mind when “sideloading” apps is that scammers attempt to trick Android users to download malware using this technique.  Always make sure the site you are downloading an app from is legitimate before installing.
Sideloading is only available for Android users. Apple, which has a reputation for stricter control over the apps that operate on its hardware, does not have a sideloading option.

Create Your Own (Browser-Based) App

Accessing social media platforms with your mobile device is still possible without using a specific app. Gab has outlined the steps for users to take on both iOS and Android to easily access not just Gab, but any other social media site with a dedicated browser shortcut on the homescreen.

The Gab mobile install help guide provides the steps for each platform:

Android:

  1. Launch the “Chrome” app
  2. Search for and open Gab.com
  3. Tap the menu icon (3 dots in the upper right-hand corner) and tap “Add to Home Screen.”
  4. You’ll be able to enter a name for the shortcut and then Chrome will add the Gab app to your home screen.
  5. Open the Gab app from your home screen.

iOS:

  1. Launch the “Safari” app
  2. Search for and open Gab.com
  3. Tap the share icon (the button at the center of the footer on the bottom) scroll and tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  4. You’ll be able to enter a name for the shortcut and then Safari will add the Gab app to your home screen.
  5. Open the Gab app from your home screen.

This method works for any and all platforms and sites that have a public website that can be accessed via a web browser.

Breitbart News has been reporting extensively on the recent wave of censorship that many conservative sites and users are facing following the Capitol Hill protest, read more at Breitbart Tech here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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