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Apple pulls iOS app that promoted 'secret parties' during pandemic

Vybe Together, an app that facilitated "secret parties" between users, has been removed from the iOS App Store after seemingly flouting coronavirus safety guidelines by promoting large New Year's Eve gatherings.

A recent Vybe Together video appeared on TikTok encouraging users to join "secret gatherings" in New York City up to and including this weekend, reports Business Insider. The short video sharing platform disabled the company's account, which was highlighted as advertising "NYE ragers" by New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz in a tweet on Tuesday.

Apple quickly followed suit and culled the app from the App Store. Vybe's creators confirmed the tech giant was responsible for the takedown in a statement to The Verge.

A relatively obscure service, Vybe Together urged users to join in "private" revelry, employing the catchphrase, "Get your rebel on. Get your party on." The app is — or was — somewhat exclusive and only approved members were able to use the service to find, create and join parties.

"We are like Eventbrite, but way cooler," a Vybe Together spokesperson told Business Insider. "Vybe's can be anything from playing board games to bachata with your neighbors. A lot of people have been isolated and lonely and we wanted to enable them to meet. We are aware that large gatherings are not okay and we do not promote them. If we see events are popular we take them off!"

A person claiming to be a Vybe co-founder told The Verge that the service boasted a "few thousand" members, with another few thousand waiting in the wings as applicants. Exposure from Lorenz's tweet potentially drove more users to the service, though media scrutiny has seemingly forced it to suspend operations.

With its TikTok account terminated and the app stricken from the App Store, the firm shut down its website and closed an Instagram account. Vybe's last Instagram post — before it, too, was removed — read, "Blown out of proportion by the media. We DO NOT CONDONE LARGE GATHERINGS!!!"