Pushing back against Apple


When does Apple start coming in for the same kind of widespread anti-big-company criticism that Microsoft got when it tried to dictate what Web browser (and other programs) you had to use with its operating system?

Apple keeps a tight fist on who can develop applications for its iPad and IPhones and this week Mark Fiore exposed the company’s policy when he revealed that Apple had rejected his app because it violated the rules Apple requires of developers. Apple rejects content that “may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic or defamatory,” such as cartoons that mock public figures.

Mark Fiore? He won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his cartoons that mock public figures.

The iPad, clearly, has great possibilities for expanding the dissemination of creativity, but in the process, isn’t Apple setting the rules for content and isn’t that everything the online universe has historically hated?

Today, Nieman Journalism Lab reports, Apple is “reconsidering” Fiore’s application.

After our story ran, Fiore got a call from Apple — four months after receiving a rejection email — inviting him to resubmit his NewsToons app. Fiore says he resubmitted it this morning. We’ll keep you posted on what happens. If history is a guide, though, this is likely to be good news for Fiore. Tom Richmond’s Bobble Rep app was initially rejected, then approved after a firestorm of online criticism. Daryl Cagle went through something similar last year.

Easy enough, then. All you have to do is win a Pulitzer Prize.

But this is serious business. It’s a question of who has the right to publish? And who has the right to silence those who have something to say? Ryan Chittum at the Columbia Journalism Review says the news media should be pushing back. Hard.

The press has got to step back and think about the broad implications of this. It would never let the government have such power over its right to publish. It shouldn’t let any corporation have it, either. While it’s at it, the media should campaign against speech restrictions for everybody.

And this is a good excuse to more closely scrutinize the market influence that Apple, now the third largest corporation (UPDATE: by market capitalization, I should have said) in America, behind Exxon and Microsoft, is gaining on markets, including software development.

  • Colin

    My friend and i had an interesting chat about this issue. I said that there shouldn’t be such harsh censorship of apps on the apple ipad (and others). She feels that “apple has a right and duty to watch the apps that are being created, making sure that they aren’t going to potentially cause harm to the company… [regarding the cartoons] If Obama or Kate Gosselin or whomever then sues the person who made the picture AND apple for distributing it… that becomes problematic for apple. EVEN if the lawsuit doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, it’s still time the lawyers have to put into fighting it. i think they’re a business, and as a business they have a right to decide what is put on their platform.”

    After the talk, i can’t say i disagree. Its not that they’re blocking the ability to see these cartoons on the web browser on the ipad. Just an app.