Tuesday, November 30, 2010

iTunes Pulls "Manhattan Declaration" for Being "Anti-Gay", "Anti-Woman" and "Anti-Abortion"

We see more political hardball being played by Apple's iTunes ... this report is from The Christian Post:
App Store Pulls Manhattan Declaration

Apparently there's not an app for the 400,000+ signature declaration....

Trevor Persaud
Apple's iTunes App Store has removed a program for the Manhattan Declaration after critics decried the declaration as "anti-gay" and "anti-woman."  The app, which went online in October, enabled users to sign the declaration, visit the website, and take a survey relating to the declaration. Change.org posted a petition--which picked up over 7,000 signers in a few days--asking that Apple remove the "anti-gay and anti-choice" application.

Defining itself as "A Call of Christian Conscience," the 4700-word declaration announces its signatories' intention "to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense" of principles that include "sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion." Released in 2009, the declaration has picked up over 400,000 signers, including drafters Charles Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George. (CT's editor-in-chief David Neff also signed the declaration.)

At some point in the last few days, the declaration app unobtrusively vanished from the App Store.  Observers have long puzzled over Apple's criteria for accepting and rejecting apps; in fact many people accused Apple of a double standard when they rejected a number of apps designed specifically for the gay community. The company said they rejected the apps for objectionable content, though many say that the cited content was no worse than that available in apps the company has accepted (like the one promoting the recent movie Bruno).

Apple has yet to explain its reasons for removing the declaration's app, which they originally rated "4+" for "No objectionable material." Supporters of the declaration, however, are definitely making their opinions known about the anti-app campaign.

"I am one of the 150 or so original signers of the Manhattan Declaration—I urge readers here to sign it—and I don’t hate gay people," wrote Tom Gilson on First Things's Evangel blog. "That’s an unjust and intolerant tag that a minority opposition group has fixed upon me for rhetorical effect. It’s wrong and it’s extremely judgmental."

"To a radicalized blog dedicated to promoting abortion, denigrating the dignity of women and the unborn, and supporting unnatural unions, this application is the scourge of human existence," writes Billy Atwell on the Manhattan Declaration's own blog. "What does that tell me? It tells me that we’re doing something right "
More reactions to come.
Interesting how Apple puts The Manhattan Declaration on a parallel with these other apps it pulled or rejected earlier:

- In February it was reported that Apple would pull sexually explicit apps, although curious how I still frequently run across them as I hunt for apps for my iPhone and iPad

- dreadful games such as "Baby Shaker" in which the user can quiet a crying baby by vigorously shaking the iPod or iPhone, or AMP's "Before You Score" game which gave young males tips for scoring and then sharing their exploits on Twitter or Facebook

- the app "I Am Rich" that people spent an outragous sum for ($1,000) simply to show off their wealth

- various political apps, such as Trampoline which uses the iPod's accelerometer to bounch political figures or iSinglePlayer that was rejected for daring to educate the public on the single-payer option of health care

Here's Brian Chen's take on Apple's predicament with his article "A Call for Transparency in Apple's App Store":
The issue is poised to grow as more iPads sell. To understand, you have to consider the logistics of embracing a new publishing medium such as the iPad. Media operations must integrate digital tablet production into their infrastructure, and it’s neither easy nor inexpensive to obtain the software developers, designers and content creators to make such a transition. And if advertisers invest more money in the iPad version of a publication, that pressures publishers to give priority to resources allocated to the iPad.

Given Apple’s lead in mobile, the rate at which Apple and the App Store are growing and the wild enthusiasm among advertisers lining up for the iPad opportunity, it seems inevitable that Apple will to some extent have influence over the content that publishers produce.

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