Apple’s long history of rejecting ‘objectionable content’ from the App Store

“Each day, Apple is tasked with a near-impossible job: keeping its sprawling App Store free from malware, blatantly offensive content, and spam,” Louise Matsakis writes for Motherboard. “In order to do it, the company requires each of the App Store’s roughly two million apps, from iFart to Twitter, to undergo an extensive approval process.”

“It’s always been this way. In 2010, Steve Jobs famously told a customer in an email that he believes Apple has ‘a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone,’ and that those looking for explicit content should ‘buy an Android,'” Matsakis writes. “It’s not just porn, of course — Apple has rejected apps that are politically problematic, contain malware, put Apple in a bad light, or are just plain juvenile.”

“Apple’s software marketplace is one of the biggest digital economies ever created,” Matsakis writes. “Last year, App Store developers raked in $20 billion, so it makes economic sense for them to them to continue to focus the bulk of their energy on iOS.”

MacDailyNews Take: As always, and everywhere from developers to case makers to car makers, Android is relegated to being an afterthought at best.

“While most developers never run into problems with the App Store, there are plenty who have spent years honing and perfecting their apps, only to be turned away from the App Store for mysterious reasons, often under Apple’s infamous rule banning ‘objectionable content,'” Matsakis writes. “The App Store is the most successful guarded ecosystem in the history of the internet. For nearly a decade, Apple has undertaken a remarkable task—keeping an enormous software marketplace free from spam, malware, and risks to user security. And for the most part, it has been good at the job. But at the same time, Apple has repeatedly rejected apps and refused to clarify its decisions to developers and users.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wherever there is any curation whatsoever, there will be criticism.

Apple rejects game featuring ‘objectionable’ Pepe The Frog cartoon – June 12, 2017
Apple removes New York Times apps from App Store in China at behest of Chinese government – January 4, 2017
Apple App Store rejects Samsung Pay app for iPhone – December 12, 2016
Apple App Store rejects pro-Trump ‘Build the Wall’ game over ‘Pepe The Frog’ cartoon – October 21, 2016
Apple App Store rejects satirical Hillary Clinton game, despite offering dozens of anti-Trump games – July 27, 2016
Apple’s App Store anti-competitive? Spotify and Elizabeth Warren think so – July 15, 2016
Apple pulls ‘I Sea’ refugee rescue app from App Store after it’s outed as fake – June 21, 2016
Apple quashes rifle Emoji – June 20, 2016
Apple assigns App Store oversight to Phil Schiller in apparent nod to developer issues – December 18, 2015


    1. “In an impassioned plea, Mr Cook, boss of the world’s largest company, says that the epidemic of false reports ‘is a big problem in a lot of the world’ and necessitates a crackdown by the AUTHORITIES and technology firms.”
      “‘It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,’ said Mr Cook. ‘There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic…”

      The book burning bonfire has been rescheduled to 8pm PDT, One Infinite Circle Jerk, Cupertino CA

      1. Here ya’ go, Tim…you’re learning from the Masters Of Censorship:

        “ reports: The Chinese government is blocking social media posts including the image of A.A. Milne’s beloved Winnie the Pooh, apparently due to constant comparisons between the cartoon bear and Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to multiple reports.”

          1. Bingo. Hypocrisy crept in from the very beginning and nested, and whatever was pure about the liberal message got eaten away. It may simply be that this is just the nature of politics, but if so it’s a lousy, rotten nature.

            1. Don’t forget, Apple has shut out “liberal” apps, too. The app that notified people of news about U.S. drone strikes was rejected. Literally, all it did was send a brief news blurb to people who wanted to keep track of public information about strikes, so that they were informed about what the government was doing in their name.
              Apple rejected it. A news app. Why? Because apparently informing U.S. citizens about the atrocities committed by the government in their name is “politically objectionable.”
              So, it isn’t just a liberal/conservative thing – it’s an establishment/fringe thing. Don’t get the enemies of freedom confused. Both liberal and conservative politicians will happily shut down freedom if it benefits them retaining power. Apple often plays along with what is “safe,” and that’s avoiding criticism of the establishment.

  1. Re: the MDN take:

    True… but not all criticism falls into the unjustifiable category.

    It also does not address the fact that “… Apple has repeatedly rejected apps and refused to clarify its decisions to developers and users.”

  2. It is blatant hypocrisy on Apple’s part. So they don’t allow ‘porn’ but do allow games depicting ‘murder’ which is way worse than ‘porn’ IMO. They really have no moral compass to speak of.

    1. “IMO.”

      There’s the key right there: what YOUR opinion is about what is worse (depicting – i.e., simulating – murder vs ACTUAL porn) may differ from the opinion of others.

      Should they both be banned in the name of a fully “moral” viewpoint?

      Should neither be banned in the name of a fully “free” marketplace?

      It’s a walled garden, but it’s APPLE’S walled garden; if you want to play in it, you have to tolerate their rules or go elsewhere.

      1. @emmayche:
        It’s strange – you seem to be informing everyone of the obvious: that Apple makes the decisions.
        Can I get a “duh”?
        @trondude was complaining that Apple should make it’s decisions differently. As a customer, he’s perfectly justified in saying “I’d like you to do things differently.” They may or may not change based on his complaint, but you basically telling him to shut up is kinda dumb. Seems like you’re wasting your time stating the obvious in a way that doesn’t really refute @trondude’s argument.

        That’s my opinion.

  3. “It’s not just porn, of course — Apple has rejected apps that are politically problematic, contain malware, put Apple in a bad light, or are just plain juvenile.”

    Lot’s of words when you only need one. It’s. Called. CENSORSHIP!

    I would shut up about it if there was a legitimate way for me to get ‘objectionable content’ for my iPad elsewhere.

    1. I like objectionable content, because if someone objected to it, it’s likely to be damn good. Everybody I know can differentiate between scandalous and sleazy. Sure they draw the lines in different places, because human judgement is not an exact science. I think that censors tend to get bedazzled by their power to influence human thought. They’re influencing no one, except to revolt against oppression.

  4. Have people forgotten that it is their company store? They can do what they bloody well want and carry what they bloody well want. I would imagine in some apps, they find some suspicious code so they refuse it. Do they HAVE to give an explanation???
    To quote a famous line…’Where’s the beef?”

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