Which of these iPhone apps was originally approved with flying colors? Which was removed after public outcry alerted Apple to it’s nature? Which one, regardless of how distasteful, has even a remote chance of leading to someone’s harm?
The Apple App Store opened almost three years ago. In that time, over 350,000 apps have been approved. If evenly spaced over every hour of every day during those three years, that would be approximately thirteen apps per hour. Keep in mind, this only accounts for those that made it in — many more did not. There is simply no practical way for Apple to use real, live personnel to evaluate each app. Instead, they have automated the process.
Let’s look further. The shaken baby app was approved early in 2009, before the app store was automated. The Exodus app was approved in February of this year, after further changes have decreased approval times immensely. So the shaken baby app was approved even with human involvement. Since we can assume for obvious reasons that Apple did not intend for the shaken baby app to be approved (even the title would give it away), it is clear that mistakes can be made, even when a human being is helping.
Fast-forward to this year, and we have an upgraded, faster, automated system approving the Exodus app. This app is actually not an original creation. Exodus used an online DIY system from a company called Methodapps. You pay a fee and use their website to pick a template and a few features linked with your website. Methodapps then takes care of the app submission, etc. This means it is very likely the automated system noted a basic template app from a company that has been approved many times before, found no programming violations or blatant negative content (the content would be populated from the Exodus website later), and automatically approved it.
This explains the initial approval and 4+ rating for the Exodus app (the number rating was not used when the shaken baby app was approved). We must reasonably assume that Exodus’ app could easily have been approved by mistake (many others have been pulled), else we are forced to believe Apple was perfectly comfortable with promoting an app that makes light of infanticide. Further, we would have to believe that a company so consistently pro-gay rights was equally comfortable promoting an organization like Exodus that embodies the antithesis of that position.
The only logical conclusion is that Apple goofed — understandably so, but goofed nonetheless — and would have pulled the Exodus app even if far fewer people had protested. The Manhattan Declaration was pulled after approximately 7000 signatures, not nearly the 150,000 logged against the Exodus app.
So all the bluster in articles (by people who really should know better) about how the Exodus app was approved as having “no objectionable content,” only to be “forced or bullied” out of the app store by intolerant activists is simply rubbish. That 4+ rating means no more than the approval of the shaken baby app did. Exodus was just as surprised to see their app approved as the rest of us — they knew it was a fluke.
The answers to the first two questions at the beginning of this post are “both”, and “both”. What is your response to the third?