Apple’s policing of the iTunes App Store has drawn a considerable amount of criticism ever since the store first launched back in July of 2008. At times Apple’s app rejections have been downright nonsensical (i.e when Tweetie was temporarily rejected due to an offensive trending topic on Twitter) while some of the apps that snuck their way into the app store are equally suspect on both moral and copyright grounds.
One of the more recent apps to bring Apple’s handling of its app store to the forefront was an app called “Gay Cure”. The app was submitted by Orlando based Christian group called Exodus International, and as the name implies, the app was dedicated to “helping homosexual strugglers”. Indeed, a quick perusal of Exodus International’s website shows an organization seemingly obsessed with “curing” homosexual behavior. Their “Exodus Students” section, for example, describes itself as “a community of people who are choosing to honor God with their sexuality…”
In any event, folks were naturally incensed that Apple would approve an app that both homosexuals and heterosexuals find so overwhelmingly offensive. The app first debuted on iTunes on February 15th and further roused the ire of the masses for sporting a 4+ rating, meaning that it housed no objectionable content.
Over the past few weeks, the pressure on Apple to remove the app started to snowball, culminating in an online petition initiated by Change.org which collected over 140,000 online signatures from people who wanted the app removed.
Now comes word that Apple did, in fact, remove the app late on Tuesday evening. Searching for the app now yields zero search result and Exodus International President Alan Chambers tweeted the following on Tuesday night.
It’s official, the @ExodusInl App is no longer in the @AppStore. Incredibly disappointing. Watch out, it could happen to you. #freedom
Apple’s removal of the app raises a number of issues regarding Apple’s sometimes murky guidelines for developers. Indeed, Apple’s app store rules are purposefully described in overarching terms to give Apple greater flexibility in exercising its discretion. Note, though, that “Gay Cure” isn’t the first app Apple’s removed for touting an “anti-homosexual” philosophy. Apple back in November removed an called the “Manhattan Declaration” which advocated the “dignity of marriage as the union of one man and on woman.”
In explaining its decision to remove the app, an Apple spokesman said at the time, “We removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”