Apple Removes Vybe Together App For Flouting COVID-19 Restrictions, Promoting Parties

·2-min read

Apple has removed an app from its iOS App Store for flouting COVID-19 restrictions and promoting private parties during the pandemic, when people are recommended to stay indoors, even for things like work and school. The iOS app, call Vybe Together also had its TikTok account banned after videos of parties promoted via the app started doing the rounds on the short-form video sharing platform. The app's creators have also clarified that it was Apple that took their app down.

Vybe Together promoted itself as a place to 'organise and attend underground parties,' especially during the ongoing pandemic. "Get your rebel on. Get your party on," the app's tagline said. According to a report in The Verge, the organisers of these underground parties would have to approve everyone who wanted to attend, and the ones that got approved would receive the address two hours before the event. Most of these gatherings would have been illegal under the current pandemic restriction, especially in the US, where the app was found to be functioning. This is also the reason why the app required users to submit a profile for approval before they were allowed on. Folks at The Verge got in touch with the app's co-founder (by dialing the number on its website), who said that the app had a few thousand users, and a few thousand had applied for access since the company started posting videos on TikTok. Applying for attending Vybe Together-promoted parties involved users to submit their Instagram handle and upload pictures of themselves partying to the service, presumably to make sure they will not spill the beans.

The app had a rather low profile before Apple took it down, owing to TikTok videos of people partying when they should be indoors. A New York Times reporter named Taylor Lorenz also tweeted screenshots of the website today, saying that it is an app for "finding and promoting COVID-unsafe parties." Lorenz also posted a TikTok video of one of the parties promoted by Vybe Together.

The Verge report quotes the app's FAQ page as acknowledging the danger brought about by the pandemic, and said that the app was designed to promote "small gatherings" rather than big parties. It is important to note here that smaller gatherings are not any less of a risk when it comes to potentially spreading the virus, as infected people can still infect those who did not attend any parties.

It is not known as to what extent the app contributed to people hosting unsafe parties. Reports suggest that there was also an upcoming New Year's Eve party, which was also promoted on TikTok. TikTok has also removed the app's account, saying that it had only 139 followers when it was removed.

Interestingly, Vybe Together's Instagram account now contains a single text post that says "Blown out of proportion by the media. WE DO NOT CONDONE LARGE GATHERINGS."