Apple rejects controversial Ferguson Firsthand app


Ferguson Firsthand was intended as an
Ferguson Firsthand was intended as an "educational app."
Photo: Dan Archer

In the latest controversy over Apple’s stringent App Store guidelines, the company has rejected an “educational app” about the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The reason? Apple objects to “the subject matter” of the game, which deals with the impact of the real-life shooting that sparked rioting and a continuing conversation about race and police brutality.

“I was told, the app ‘refers to a very specific event’ and suffered from ‘too narrow scope,'” developer Dan Archer wrote in a blog post on Medium. “[The App Store representative] continued, ‘something targeted at a specific event is not appropriate.’ Instead, I was recommended to ‘develop an app around a topic — a new topic,’ she took pains to suggest — to make an app that would be ‘topical in general terms.'”

Game website Kotaku is seizing on this as an example of Apple’s “shitty policy” for accepting or rejecting apps.

Apple’s policy for apps is as follows:

“We view Apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical App. It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store.”

Personally, I feel for Apple in cases like this. Regardless of where you sit politically, Apple’s in a tough situation when it comes to deciding which apps to allow or disallow. It’s an inevitability for any app store that includes a vetting process. It’s also an example of “Apple’s house, Apple’s rules” — which developers can choose to follow or not.

Although we won’t get to see Ferguson Firsthand on our iPhones, a previously released Oculus Rift version gives some indication of what the game was like:


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