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Meetings app Vybe Together removed from App Store after being accused of promoting parties

Apple pulled the app after a New York Times reporter drew attention to it on Twitter.
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Tech websites and tech sections of massive corporate publishers that used to write about gadgets and an occasional anti-trust lawsuit hitting Big Tech, are now slowly transitioning into Covid policing of app stores and “investigating” any app, big or small, they deem as “a health hazard,” or otherwise, not complying to tech giants’ rules.

The app gained attention when the New York Times came after the app on Twitter, with Apple later removing Vybe Together from its Store. The app’s purpose is to organize parties and allow people to attend them, while it had a presence on TikTok and other social media, promoting this business.

But after New York Times tech reporter Taylor Lorenz shared screenshots of the app’s website on Twitter, accusing it of being used for “finding and promoting COVID-unsafe large, indoor house parties” – the business is in peril since the app disappeared from Apple’s Store and was banned on TikTok, with its owners deciding to remove most traces of its presence from social media, including a FAQ that revealed the goal was to organize small rather than large gatherings, precisely because of their awareness of Covid.

Vybe Together acknowledges in the FAQ that large parties can be dangerous so-called spreader events, which they don’t support – but instead offer only small gatherings.

“We could be living, at least a little during these times with Vybe,” the app’s page said.

Clearly not something Apple, TikTok, or the NYT agree with, even if reports such as the one published by The Verge said there is no proof that the app has in fact contributed to the spread of coronavirus.

In addition, the app was small – with only several thousand users on TikTok and 25 ratings on the App Store at the time it was removed.

It didn’t help that Vybe also went to the trouble of vetting those who wanted to attend one of the events – in fact this is interpreted by the media as a way to get around Covid restrictions on gatherings and movement of people (that in the US vary state by state).

Vybe Together, in a statement, said that the whole thing was “blown out of proportion by media. We DO NOT CONDONE LARGE GATHERINGS.”

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