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Apple removes covid party app
Baptiste MG – Unsplash

Apple removes Vybe Together app that promoted pandemic parties

The US-based service no longer appears on the App Store or on TikTok

Apple has removed an app that promoted social gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. Vybe Together no longer appears on the Apple App Store, and has been banned from TikTok, as well as having had most of its online presence wiped.

The app encouraged users to meet at underground parties and events in America, largely against social distancing measures, using the tagline: “Get your rebel on. Get your party on”. 341,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US at the time of writing, the most of any country in the world. “Miss playing beer pong, flirting with strangers, and generally just having a blast with the crew? Vybe is here for you,” read the now-deleted Vybe Together website

“It’s private! No randoms will show up,” promotional text on the site claimed. “Who is getting in? You and your crew apply. If the host finds you interesting, they will approve you.” The app also encourages people to “organise and create get-togethers for trendy people” in their area. “It's super easy! Vet everyone who applies to your party.”

Those given the green light to attend an event would receive its location two hours in advance. In order to sign up for the app, users had to submit their Instagram handle, as well as upload pictures of themselves partying.

In a statement released to The Verge, a spokesperson for the service said: “Vybe Together was (a minimum viable product) designed to help other people organise small get-togethers in parks or apartments during COVID-19.” The statement added: “We never hosted any large parties, and we made one over-the-top marketing video that left a wrong impression about our intentions, which has since been taken down. We do not condone large unsafe parties during a pandemic.”

In the UK, thousands flocked to illegal raves during the summer lockdown, despite organisers being threatened with penalties of up to £10,000. And now, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned that millions of people could attend similar illegal gatherings over New Year. 

NTIA’s CEO Michael Kill told HuffPost UK in early December: “People are not going to allow the government to curtail their New Year’s Eve celebrations, they will take it in their own hands and they will do what they need to do to have those celebrations.”

Revisit Dazed’s feature on what it’s like inside the UK’s illegal lockdown rave scene here.