Apple Yanks App Depicting the Dark Side of Your iPhone

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A game illustrating the mining, child labor, and waste associated with electronic devices is deemed too crude for Apple's App Store
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Early today Paolo Pedercini, the game designer behind @molleindustria, tweeted that his app, Phone Story, was available in the Apple App Store. Only a few hours later, the app was pulled from the store. Apple said that it was in violation of four guidelines, including one that prohibits the depiction of violence against or abuse of children and another that bans "excessively objectionable or crude content."

What kind of violence did Phone Story depict? What was this excessively crude content?

Phone Story showed in little cartoons child laborers working to mine coltran, a rare mineral found in most electronic devices, and workers committing suicide at what a viewer would presume to be an iPhone factory in China. Pedercini's app was a multimedia expose about "the dark side of your favorite phone" -- everything from labor conditions to the toxicity posed by unregulated electronic waste once gadgets are discarded.

In other words, Apple will allow these tragedies in its supply chain -- in reality, that is -- but not virtually, on the screen on your phone.

Pedercini tartly suggests on his website that he is now considering creating a version of the app that depicts child labor in a non-crude and non-objectionable way.

UPDATE 4:29 pm: Apple, responding to a request for comment, says that, "We removed the app because it violated our developer guidelines."

Image: Molleindustria.
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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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