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Has Apple Reached a New Low: Censoring a Dictionary App (and giving it a 17+ rating) for Listing Curse Words?

August 5, 2009

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Honestly, I didn’t think the App Store’s approval policies could get any worse. But Apple continues to amaze in what’s undoubtedly the stupidest incident yet: Even after they gave the Ninjawords dictionary a 17+ rating, they censored it. A dictionary.

Gruber recounts the entire three-month odyssey, which began with developer Phil Crosby submitting his app in May. Ninjawords’ dictionary was rejected for objectionable content, with a screenshots of the words “fuck” and “shit” in the search results. The thing is, Ninjawords is designed so you have to explicitly search for them—typing “shi” won’t bring up shit, even though other dictionaries in the store will do just that. A third submission, with the bad words like “screw” and “snatch” filtered, had them rejected again—”cunt” slipped past their filter—with Apple telling the developer it would have to be rated 17+ to get approved, no matter what.

Adding insult to injury, when the developer decided to give in, censoring their dictionary and taking the 17+ rating, Apple wouldn’t let them simply change the metadata to have a rating, they had to resubmit the entire app code, sending them to the back of the queue for approval. Apple didn’t just gut a dictionary, they stomped on the developers throughout the entire contradictory approval process that had let through other dictionaries which even more “objectionable.”

Gruber sums it up best: “Apple requires you to be 17 years or older to purchase a censored dictionary that omits half the words Steve Jobs uses every day.”

I think it can now be said that the App Store is actually making us dumber now.

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