Apple has pulled an app from the App Store that espoused an anti-gay and anti-abortion agenda called Manhattan Declaration from a group with the same name. The app had been approved and given a 4+ age rating, a rating that means the app contains “no objectionable material,” but Apple pulled the app over the Thanksgiving weekend after PinkNews got more than seven thousand signatures asking for the app to be pulled.
According to reports, the app presented The Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto put together by conservative Catholic and fundamentalist Christian groups against both abortion rights and gay marriage, in full. The app also included a four questions presented as a survey asking about the user’s opinions on the two subjects, but anyone filling out the survey was then given a score based on whether their answers matched the group’s agenda. In addition, the app also asked people to sign on to the declaration.
Surprisingly, Apple actually commented on this app removal, telling PC Magazine in a statement, “We removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”
For its part, The Manhattan Declaration is “deeply perplexed” as to how Apple could find its app objectionable. In a blog post, it said that, “We are urging Apple to restore the App, and have written to Steve Jobs. We will update you with developments as they arise.”
The image below of a broken iPhone with a screen shot of the now-pulled app was taken from the group’s home page:
The Manhattan Declaration Protests Apple’s App Decision
Apple hasn’t often been publicly active in the political spectrum, but in 2008 the company did give US$100,000 to fight the now infamous Prop 8 measure in California that rewrote the state’s constitution to outlaw gay marriage. At that time, Apple said in a statement:
Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.
All of this serves to illustrate the tightrope that Apple will constantly have to walk after setting itself up as the arbiter for what can and can not be offered on the App Store. In this case, anti-gay and anti-choice people will be angry the app was pulled, while gay rights and pro-choice users were angry the app was ever approved.