News app from Hezbollah launched then goes missing in Apple App Store, while two apps remain in Google Play
The early days of the Apple App Store were filled with stories of apps pulled, then reappearing as the App Store team struggled with its policies. One of the more famous incidents involved Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Mark Fiore’s iPhone app NewsToons, which Apple pulled because his cartoons “ridicules public figures,” which at the time was – believe it or not – part of the developer guidelines. (The uproar led to its quick reappearance a few days later.)
A couple of days ago The Daily Star, the Lebanese daily newspaper, reported that the app from Hezbollah was back in the Apple App Store, having been previously pulled. The new app launched on March 9, but you will not find a link to it here because when I searched for the app I found it missing once again. The assumption is that Apple’s App Store team has pulled the app (though, to be fair, another explanation may be possible).
The app is designed to deliver news from the Al-Manar TV channel, which the U.S. government says has ties to Hezbollah, and is therefore considered a terrorist organization. The app, which can be seen in a cached version using a Google search (see above-right) simply says “LCG is an application that brings news from all around the world,” in its short app description. The new app tries to keep a low profile, with no company logo to be found.
The Google Play apps are clearer in their affiliations. The Al manar TV app prominently displays its company logo and features streaming TV broadcasts. It’s app description is in Arabic and reads (in rough Google translation) “The application of Al-Manar TV, you can watch the broadcast channel through the application and see the most important news.”
The other app, almanar, is closer to the app that was inside the Apple App Store, a basic RSS driven smartphone news app.
Apple continues to have rather odd policies concerning the App Store, letting in and keeping in, apps that hide what magazines they are selling, or allowing developers to sell annual subscriptions to magazines that will never produce a second issue once launched. The idea of a curated app store is a good idea only when the curation is logical and fairly applied.