Apple pulls anti-gay app after online petition receives 146,000 signatures

Mar 23, 2011
Tech

Within just a few days of the story spreading across the country and the Internet and an online petition garnering more than 146,000 virtual signatures, Apple (AAPL) has removed the Exodus International app from its iTunes App Store. The free app, by the Exodus International ministry and bearing the same name, included video, podcasts, news […]

Within just a few days of the story spreading across the country and the Internet and an online petition garnering more than 146,000 virtual signatures, Apple (AAPL) has removed the Exodus International app from its iTunes App Store.

The free app, by the Exodus International ministry and bearing the same name, included video, podcasts, news updates and blogs that carried Exodus’ message of “providing support for individuals who want to recover from homosexuality.” That message had quite a few people pretty upset.

We told you about this story on Monday, when outraged gay rights groups and activists were calling for the app’s removal and questioning how Apple had approved it in the first place. The Exodus app boasted that during Apple’s app approval process, it had received a 4, a designation which states that the app includes “no questionable content.”

Obviously, there were at least 146,000 people who didn’t agree with that assessment.

Apple, unsurprisingly, isn’t commenting on the matter, but Exodus International is gone from the App Store today. According to a story from Mashable, members of Truth Wins Out, the activist group pushing for the app’s removal, applauded the move.

“Apple made a wise and responsible decision to dump an offensive app that demonized gay and lesbian people,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out.

Meanwhile, members of Exodus International claimed they were the victims of propaganda and the Exodus International app’s purpose and message had been confused or misinterpreted.

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“I want to provide the information and education for people who are looking for an alternative to unwanted same sex attractions,” said Jeff Buchanan of Exodus International in a story in the Baltimore Sun.

This isn’t the first time Apple has reversed itself and pulled an app that was offensive to gay people. A similar situation happened last year, although it had a much smaller petition of only 7,000. And Apple has a pretty pro-gay track record: it gave money and support in California to fight Proposition 2, an initiative that added an anti-gay marriage clause to the California constitution.

The removal of Exodus International’s app begs a question that many would consider to be pretty serious: what is going on here? Does Apple agree with such apps and stances as that of Exodus International, or does it block things like it that many people would find offensive? Is this approval and the last one an oversight? One wonders just how stringent the App Store approval process actually is if an app, that is pretty clearly offensive to a large group of people, could make it through and be left available on iTunes for more than a month.

More than a few people are wondering where Apple stands and what its review process is like in light of apps like Exodus International getting through to the App Store. It seems as if Apple itself might want to make those policies clearer and decide where it stands on issues, as well as what kind of apps it wants in its store before it gets slapped with petitions.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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