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Apple deletes drone-attack app from Store, cites ‘objectionable content’

Wed 30 Sep 2015

U.S. drone

Drone-strike app Metadata+ has been pulled from Apple’s App Store, for “excessively crude” and “objectionable content.”

Launched in 2014 by Intercept research editor Josh Begley, Metadata+ uses data drawn from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to send notifications to users whenever someone dies in a U.S. drone attack.

The app struggled to get approval under its original title Drones+, but was finally approved under the name Metadata+. The app uses text data and maps to notify of the killings, rather than crude photographic content which is also collected by the Bureau.

A screen shot of Begley’s iTunes account shows an Apple explanation, detailing that ‘Your app contains content that many users would find objectionable.’ Begley explained that the app will continue to work for those who have already installed Metadata+, while new users will be unable to download it.

For individuals interested in following Begley’s drone updates, his Twitter account Dronestream and alternate iOS app Ephemeral+ also record drone-related incidents. Ephemeral+ does not describe its drone feature in its Apple listing – perhaps why it is yet to be removed from the Store.

Apple has not provided comment on the censorship.

The company is frequently under fire for its approach to censoring apps hosted on its App Store. Content referring to the civil war in Syria, child labour, sweatshops and North Korea have been pulled, along with games and apps featuring the Confederate flag.

Apple’s Developer guidelines read: ‘We view apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. 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.’

Begley has yet to say whether he intends to appeal Apple’s decision to remove Metadata+.

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