Apple is removing all apps from the App Store that feature the Confederate flag, following Tim Cook’s tweet that the flag is a symbol for racism.
The public movement supporting the removal of the Confederate flag started a few weeks ago, after the Charleston Church attack where nine African-American locals were shot. It has also lead to further debate into gun control in the United States.
Apple’s own engagement with the removal of the Confederate flag came a little later than other stores, with Amazon, Walmart and other stores removing the flag a few days beforehand.
In a statement, Apple said:
“We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines."
The issue with the current policy is Apple removing every single app with any Confederate flag. That means historical games and apps on the Civil War have been removed from the App Store, apps that are legitimately informative and useful to iOS users.
Apple is working to bring some of these apps back on the storefront, but it has banned the Confederate flag with impunity. It has not said if this ban includes flags in map, which would hurt a lot of Civil War games talking about both sides.
This is not the first time Apple has made rash decisions on policy, a few weeks ago it banned all apps claiming to offer Pebble support, before reversing the decision a week after. It is this gun-ho control of the App Store people dislike, compared to Google or Steam’s hands-off control giving more power to user reviews and freedom to developers.
The censorship card can also be played against Apple for this move. It is fine to not like the Confederate flag and even remove apps that promote the Confederacy and what it stood for, but outright banning the flag is complete censorship. Most critics agree that flags and information on past events, no matter how horrifying, should not be forgotten.