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| December 22, 2014

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Inconsistencies in Apple's Censorship of the App Store -

Inconsistencies in Apple’s Censorship of the App Store

| On 04, Nov 2013

How the Censorship Process Works

There have been many apps which have been pulled from the App Store recently.  One of these was Funny Shoppers.  Only minutes after the news came out that you could access an application which would host a gallery of some of the trashiest Wal-Mart customers, it had been pulled from Apple’s App Store.  Sometimes you’ll find much more controversial apps making their way onto the App Store (and staying there) with a recurring schizophrenic approach to app censorship.

Alkali Media is a small development business which formed Feature Creative – Funny Shoppers and People of Walmart.  Their head man, Mike McNasby, spoke out about the app which captures some real human horrors roaming the aisles at the shopping giant.  He said that the approval process took around two months to complete before being allowed to launch onto the App Store.

When the app was originally sent off to Apple for approval, it was immediately dismissed due to the ‘obscene content’ that it hosts, according to McNasby.  However, this came at very little shock. Apple likes to ban anything, whether it is ever so slightly erotic content, or popular literary publications from those like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce.  At one point, Steve Jobs public stated that he was trying to make a platform completely “free of smut”.  However, this means very little when you can go on to the native Safari browser and access whatever sort of thing you want…

The developers then decided to make some editions to get it back on the App Store.  So they removed posts which showed people in Walmart and instead visitors to the app could only view inanimate objects in the supermarket.  However, the guys at Apple still found grounds to ban it, again on grounds of ‘obscene content’, even though there was absolutely zero obscene content in it!

Outlook on Gambling

It is bizarre that, with such a strict outlook on the censorship of apps, the software giant allows various gambling apps such easy access to the store.  The number of apps in this area is growing rapidly and they can cover anything from poker, bingo, casino games sports bets to slots and other instant games.  You would think that, given how tight their acceptance conditions are, they would find a way to block the access, especially because the use of these apps is prohibited in the majority of American states.

Many of the gambling apps give players generous bonuses just for joining!  All mobile casinos offer a bonus when you make a deposit, but some even offer your free money before you even enter your credit card details. You can visit this page for examples of no deposit mobile bingo apps that are available for iPhone users. Some of these apps even offer the free bonus for new users, enticing them to download the app and gamble.

Effects of Censorship

Not only is over-censorship of the App Store limiting and boring, it carries a number of social consequences too.  In April 2013, the readers of the comic book Saga learned that they would not be able to access the 12th issue though the Apple’s iTunes Store.  As you can imagine, this came as quite a disappointment, especially if you consider that the previous 11 issues were easily accessible. Co-Author Brian Vaughan claimed that the issue had been denied as a result of two postage stamp-sizes images portraying gay sex which were included in the comic.   However, it turned out that it was a distribution company named Comixology which denied the publishing of the issue, not Apple. They had assumed that it would not pass their strict filters, which they later found out was not true.

It is well known that Apple has problems dealing with politics and sexuality in its apps.  Most users are hardly active by Apple’s iBookStore platform, and the App Store has much tighter controls.  There is a complete ban on sexual nudity as well as heavy dissuasion towards those who want to discuss political or religious beliefs.  In a policy note, Apple said “If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app. It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store.”

They have banned a ridiculous range of apps due to their content.  In 2012, the App Store rejected an app which was designed by New York student Josh Begley which charted drone strikes by the US.  The app was powered by regularly updated information from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  Another app which was banned was called Sweatshop, a game in which players had to progress through levels working in a factory.  Players’ success was measure based on how many people were killed or injured in a day.

There is absolutely no rationalising Apple’s behaviour when it comes to censorship.  They use the most parochial of standards to decide what is and what is not acceptable for the App Store.  The Android operating system has been gradually increasing in popularity over the past five years and the Google Play store is becoming as widely used as the App Store.  As Google continues to build its strength, Apple may have to loosen up when it comes to App Store restrictions.

 

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