An app exploring the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has been rejected by Apple, according to a blog post by creator Dan Archer. Archer is a graphic journalist and founder of Empathetic Media, a media agency that produces virtual and augmented reality stories. The “Ferguson Firsthand” app was listed as an educational app and takes users on a 3D tour through the apartment complex where Brown was shot, but Archer said an Apple representative told him the app’s subject matter ran afoul of the company’s policies, calling it too narrow in scope. The representative allegedly told Archer he should develop an app around “a new topic” that would be “topical in general terms,” leading Archer and other Internet commentators to condemn Apple’s app review policy as journalistic censorship.
Apple has taken heat for its vague App Store Review Guidelines before, which state in part, “We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.” Apple pulled apps containing Confederate flags in June after a deadly church shooting in Charleston, with CEO Tim Cook making reference to “removing symbols and words that feed” racism. The company hasn’t commented publicly on the “Ferguson Firsthand” app.