Sometimes an app crosses that line between crude and ban-worthy. But how controversial does it have be to get pulled from an app store? From the racist to downright dangerous, here are 10 apps that got the axe.
This app was yanked from Apple’s French App Store after the French anti-racism organization SOS Racisme threatened to sue Apple. The app allowed users to search a database of celebrities and other high-profile individuals to determine if they were Jewish or not. SOS Racisme argued that the app violated French privacy laws that prevent a person’s personal information, including their religion, from being collected without their consent. The app is, however, still available in the U.S. App Store.
Also known as the “Gay Cure” app, Exodus International was developed by a Florida-based Christian organization of the same name. The group mission statement says it is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.” Gay rights groups protested the app and Apple eventually pulled it from the App Store. Even after the app was banned, many gay rights advocates questioned why Apple approved the app in the first place.
Originally available through Google’s Android Market, albeit for a short period, Secret SMS Replicator served as an easy way to read another person’s text messages without their knowledge. Developer DLP Mobile suggested that the app would be a good way to spy on your significant other. Installing the app on their phone would automatically forward that person’s messages to you without their knowledge. Google took the app down after saying it violated the Android Market’s policies.
Trapster and other apps that provide DUI checkpoint locations to users drew national attention when several U.S. senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, called for Apple, Google, and RIM to ban them from their respective app stores. The senators took issue with the apps for identifying where local police set up drunk driving checkpoints, red light cameras, and speed traps, and argued that the apps promoted drunk driving by giving users a way to circumvent the checkpoints.
RIM eventually caved to the legislators’ demands. Apple kept the apps in its App Store, but set up new guidelines prohibiting developers from submitting new DUI checkpoint apps. Google still allows several such apps in its Android Market.
The anti-Israeli Third Intifada lived a short life on Apple’s App Store after Israeli politicians complained that it severed as an “instrument for incitement to violence.” The pro-Palestinian app consisted primarily of the same anti-Israeli statements and posts found on the web site 3rdIntifada.com. Apple removed the app after saying it violated the App Store terms of service against targeting a specific group.
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Kage Games’s KG Dogfighting never made it to Apple’s App Store, a point the company proudly notes in its description of the game, but it did get onto Google’s Android Market. The game charges players with raising, feeding, and training their dog to become a fighting dog. Throughout the game, users pit their animal against other dogs and receive cash for winning, which they can then put towards such upgrades as steroids.
The name says it all. Shaken Baby was dropped from Apple’s App Store after users complained of its content. The app required users to shake their phones as fast as possible to silence a crying baby. When shaken hard enough, two red X’s would appear over the baby’s eyes. A timer would track how long it took you to quiet the baby’s screams.
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Developed by Owlchemy Labs, Smuggle Truck put users in control of a truck full of immigrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. Immigrants would fall off of the truck when it hit hard bumps or animals. The app’s developers said it was meant to satirize the struggles immigrants face in trying to immigrate to the U.S. But immigrants’ rights groups called the game insensitive and suggested that it trivialized the dangers faced by individuals trying to illegally immigrate to the U.S. Apple did not release a statement regarding its decision to ban the app.
Shortly after Apple dropped the hammer on Smuggle Truck, Owlchemy Labs released Snuggle Truck. The app featured the same gameplay mechanics and basic premise, but replaced the illegal immigrants with cuddly stuffed animals.
On The Go Girls’s Dirty Fingers is a simple app that allows users to control a bikini-clad woman as she cleans steam off of your smartphone’s screen. Wherever you touch the screen, the model will wipe away a bit of steam, slowly revealing her and her outfit.
The app received strong sales when it was initially released and at one point was one of the best-selling apps in Apple’s App Store. But complaints from users who objected to the content called on Apple to remove the app and the company eventually caved. Android users, however, can still download the app.
Perhaps one of the most ridiculous apps on this list, I am Rich cost $999 and did nothing. Only a handful of users downloaded the app, which is probably a good thing considering all it did was display a red jewel and display a secret mantra that “may help you to stay rich, healthy, and successful.” The app was given the boot by Apple for not offering any tangible benefit to users besides making them look bad.
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