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Apple continues to decide what content is morally acceptable for its iPhone users, rejecting a Jesus-themed app titled "Me So Holy".  (Source: Benjamin Kahle)
Apple is happy to guide its users' moral decisions

Developer Benjamin Kahle wanted to give iPhone app fans their own personal Jesus with his new "Me So Holy" iPhone app (follow the link to see video of the app).  However, Mr. Kahle found out the hard way that Apple tightly controls what it content it considers moral enough for its iPhone customers.  Continuing the saga of rejected apps -- which include a South Park app and the "Baby Shaker" app -- the new Jesus-themed app has now become the latest Apple reject.

The "Me So Holy" app arguably gives users a humorous introduction to the world's religions.  It features various religious figures, including Jesus, and allows iPhone users to take their own picture, crop it, and put it in place of Jesus and company's faces.  Apple quickly rejected the app, informing Mr. Khale that it was "objectionable".

Apple wrote, "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Mr. Khale protested the move and Apple's censorship, stating, "Our question is, is religion really to be placed in the same category as these violent apps? Sex, urine, and defecation don't seem to be off-limits, yet a totally non-violent, religion-based app is."

However, not even Mr. Khale's protest could save this app, which has headed straight to Apple rejection purgatory.  Perhaps not all is lost as Apple previously had rejected a profanity-containing app update from Nine Inch Nails' chief Trent Reznor, only to turn around and accept it.

Before "Me So Holy", Mr. Khale authored the app "Animalizer", which surprisingly is much less offensive than his current app.  "Animalizer" featured a similar theme -- users take their picture, crop it, and place it on various animal body.  Both apps also allow users to insert their own caption in cartoon-esque text blobs.

Aside from the disappointment of Mr. Khale, the story of "Me So Holy" serves to highlight Apple's unusual stand with the App store.  In a time when retail stores have become increasingly accepting of adult-themed material, and even Apple's own iTunes features a great deal of adult content, Apple has chosen the iPhone as the platform for its moral stand.  While at times contradictory, its rejections and policies send a clear message to users -- Apple will decide what content is moral enough for them.

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@!$@ good, Jesus bad
By Screwballl on 5/12/2009 11:26:43 AM , Rating: 4
Welcome to the theme song of the new millennium.
If it is degrading, evil, or all around bad, including language or music, then we have to be understanding enough that it is free speech... but as soon as religion enters in, that is BAD!

If I remember right, there is a 3rd party iPhone store where people can submit and get these rejected apps, provided the creator submitted it. Wish I still had the url for it.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By jenigmaa on 5/12/2009 11:47:06 AM , Rating: 5
Apple also rejected the baby-shaking App, and the Nine inch Nails App. It is not just religion. It's the company's decision to not sell the app in the App Store. If a consumer wants the app that badly, then they are free to find it using a 3rd Party store.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By therealnickdanger on 5/12/2009 12:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
Myself knowing nothing about the App Store - I'm a WM user - they have a 3rd party app store where you can get any app? I thought - from the outside looking in - that you could only purchase and use "Apple-certified" apps from its store. So for all of these months that I've been hearing people complain, they could just go and get the app anyway?

So then what's the big deal about the app store?

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By suppressex on 5/12/2009 1:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
The 3rd party app store is not run by Apple. In order to use it you have to "jailbreak" your iPhone. I believe the "real" app store has a larger audience, and so apps distributed through it stand to benefit from that (ie higher profits, wider distribution, etc).

The people who are complaining have often just spent months learning how to program for the iPhone (and sometimes quite a bit of money) with the sole intent of putting something in Apple's official app store, never expecting to hear that Apple rejects their content on what probably feels like a whim. I'm sure it's a lousy feeling.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By therealnickdanger on 5/12/2009 2:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, I see. I was aware that "jailbroken" phones could use other apps, but I thought you meant normal phones. Makes sense now, thanks.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By xRyanCat on 5/12/2009 2:27:30 PM , Rating: 5
Except there aren't 3rd party stores.

Where's the EU when you need them? It's only a matter of time before Apple becomes the most anti-competitive company in the world. If Microsoft did half the things Apple did they would have been fined to oblivion.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By QueBert on 5/18/2009 4:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
Uhhh, yes there are. I PAID for an app on the Cydia store, it charged my Visa and my phone now has a new app on it. I would say that qualifies as a "3rd party store"

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By sprockkets on 5/19/2009 10:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
Apple did NOT reject the baby app UNTIL people complained about it.

But come to think about it, the real reason why it was rejected is because Steve Jobs does not believe that Jesus was the real Messiah, but that he is the real deal and he is the real savior of the market.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By clovell on 5/12/2009 2:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, I think more people are killed in the name of religion than any of those other things you cited.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By MozeeToby on 5/12/2009 4:23:30 PM , Rating: 4
Take a group of people and divide them up based on their favorite color, then pit the teams against each other in some contest. Within a few hours you'll hear people saying how all the other teams cheat and only their team plays fair. Its just human psychology. If people didn't fight over religion, they'd fight over something else.

Besides, I would bet that more people are fed and clothed in the name of religion than any other single issue. I'm not saying anything about religious versus non-religious morals. I'm only saying that, although many people don't need religion to be interested in helping others, many people do need the extra encouragement. Even among those who would help others without religion, churches are an obvious choice when it comes to organizing and recruiting for charities.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By bobdelt on 5/13/2009 3:51:55 PM , Rating: 3
What does that even mean? The "name of religion".

When's the last time a church organized a killing?

Even the radical islamists, and suicide bombers, are not killing for their religion, they use that as propaganda.

I think in the "name of their nation" might make a little more sense...well, maybe a little more.

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By robertisaar on 5/18/2009 1:40:17 PM , Rating: 2
i don't know if it was the last time, but the crusades and the spanish inquisition come to mind...

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By sprockkets on 5/19/2009 9:40:31 PM , Rating: 3
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

RE: @!$@ good, Jesus bad
By AMcA on 5/21/2009 12:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
This is by definition NOT censorship.

Censorship is what happens when the force of government is put behind silencing speech. Apple is, by definition, not able to censor.

When people scream "censorship" over private actions, they totally debase the danger of censorship. So stop, alarmists.

Freedom of Speech?
By DSaba10 on 5/12/2009 11:57:07 AM , Rating: 5
I don't see how anyone could push the "Freedom of speech" button on this issue. Apple gives us permission to develop apps for its iPhone platform. It is a privilege, not a right. So if they want to hack out harmless apps, then so be it. How many ridiculous dumb apps do we really need anyway? Being upset about the rejection of this app really makes no sense. Will your world truly be that much better knowing you can plaster your face over some religious icon and throw up a funny quote? I say, who cares?

RE: Freedom of Speech?
By suppressex on 5/12/2009 1:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think a lot of people are disgruntled about the PRINCIPLE of the issue, since the PERCEPTION is that the process is somewhat arbitrary. At least right now, there is still no way to know for sure if Apple will reject your app until AFTER you put a great deal of effort (and maybe some money) into creating and submitting it. And of course this particular app is silly and pointless, however that is not the case for all of the apps rejected by Apple.

Having said that, I am in complete agreement with you that developing apps for the iPhone and submitting / profiting from them is a privilege and not a right.

Keep in mind that Apple also takes a cut of the profits from apps sold. If no one would sue, they would stand to make the most profit from having as many apps as possible in the app store. Rejecting apps only makes sense on the grounds that they stand to lose more than they gain by their inclusion in the app store. For those complaining about Apple's rejection policies, kindly direct some of your animosity toward the people who would sue or boycott Apple products over an app that "offended" them.

RE: Freedom of Speech?
By DSaba10 on 5/12/2009 4:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well first off let me thank you for a great response. You never know sometimes what you'll get. Let me apologize if I start rambling though!

In regards then to those that would sue, perhaps it's just a fine line to walk. I guess I would have to do a little more research on the whole thing. I've seen many articles of Apple rejecting apps that don't really do a whole lot. I guess what I don't know is if Apple provides any further detail aside from their usual blip about why an app was rejected. What is the process that these apps go through?

For this particular app, I could go either way. I am a Christian, but this doesn't really offend me. One could take it as "We are all created in God's image", so posting my face upon Jesus wouldn't be all that terrible. Me personally, I just wouldn't buy the thing. Though I tend to be a bit more liberal in my beliefs. I'm sure there are some others out there that would find it sacrilegious.

I've worked/volunteered in places of this sort before where ultimately it was my discretion as to what types of materials made it through to everyone there, but I made sure to spell out the rules, and only had minimal complaints.

I guess I just never understood the mentality of why someone would sue over one of these applications, hence my animosity against these types of articles.

RE: Freedom of Speech?
By tmouse on 5/13/2009 7:51:11 AM , Rating: 2
I'm certainly not an Apple fan but I think Apple believes (right or wrong) that these rejected apps would lead to lost sales or even entire lost markets. In the case of the recent turn arounds I'm sure the public outcry gave them the impression that the rejection would, in fact, lead to more losses so they reversed themselves. I do not believe Apple is promoting some form of moral guidance, just looking out for their own financial backsides. Obviously they will be wrong sometimes so I guess if enough people requested this app they could reverse the decision, but I doubt they will (I can see all Apple products being banned from countries with strong religious control like the middle east as an example). I just do not see a group at Apple talking about the moral values of an app, but I can see a group thinking would this P-off a significant market group? The animosity should be directed at Apple, anyone has a right to boycott anything that offends them, Apple is making a marketing decision here (would the revenue gained from their percentage of the app sales be balanced by potential loses in sales of other Apple products). As far as censorship fears go most companies know that, by and large, unless they get caught being slavers or something these cries will not really translate into many lost sales. Everyone knows they are "censoring" their catalogue and they can be viewed as hypocrites from profiting from similar or worse products they do sell, but that is having no real effect on I-pod sales.

Avoiding Jihad
By troysavary on 5/12/2009 11:58:19 AM , Rating: 4
Aplle didn't say this, of course, but I imagine that if the app contained Mohammad,they they had a prudent reason to reject the app. While Christians will post angry blogs, and boycott the product, Muslims are likely to declare Jihad and try to bomb the Apple HQ or some crazy shit like that.

RE: Avoiding Jihad
By FITCamaro on 5/12/2009 11:45:43 PM , Rating: 4
Sad but true. Look how they responded to a cartoon.

Apple's Liability
By adamb29 on 5/12/2009 11:50:56 AM , Rating: 2
I think Apple has just opened itself to a host of lawsuits. Rather than allow everything and blame any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content on the app creators, they have decided to bring that liability to themselves.

- Apple wrote, "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Appleā€™s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

What the statement above means is:
If I find something obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory on my iPhone, or my daughters iPhone, I can sue both the app maker and Apple as Apple has clearly stated that they have used their reasonable judgement in screening all apps and only post decent ones. All it takes is one lawyer looking for a payday on this one.

Bold move Apple. Bold but stupid.

RE: Apple's Liability
By suppressex on 5/12/2009 1:13:51 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree.

Apple's legal department is among the best in the business, and I believe Apple as a company relies on them heavily. I have a feeling that the way Apple handles the app store has a lot to do with the advice they got from that dept, specifically to avoid the majority of lawsuits that may actually have a chance to hurt Apple as a company.

Should anyone still manage to build a case against Apple, their legal team is waiting. They have a lot of resources and they don't lose often.

I don't believe Apple is in any way evil or wrong for having a good legal team. They need to protect themselves from money-grubbers who somehow get it in their head that Apple owes them a free dollar - or several million.

No Steve Jobs Image -- That's Why
By Ohmaar on 5/12/2009 1:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
The Store rejected the app because they didn't include Steve Jobs as one of the religious figures.

By Scabies on 5/12/2009 3:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
hmm... add Jobs and Obama, give it a new name, maybe it'll last longer?

Probably had Islam as an option.
By JDHack42 on 5/13/2009 9:23:26 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if Islam was one of the religions and you were able to put your mug on the Prophet, then this was doomed from inception. Remember how the Nation of Islam went ballistic on some dutch (or somewhere around there) cartoonist that put the Prophet in a political cartoon? If you do that, you're asking for your own personal jihad.

By adiposity on 5/18/2009 1:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
Before "Me So Holy", Mr. Khale authored the app "Animalizer", which surprisingly is much less offensive than his current app . "Animalizer" featured a similar theme -- users take their picture, crop it, and place it on various animal body. Both apps also allow users to insert their own caption in cartoon-esque text blobs.

Why is it surprising? You are editorializing this with very strange assumptions.


You're Suprised From Apple?
By luvwknd on 5/12/09, Rating: 0
By Ryanman on 5/12/09, Rating: -1
RE: Strange
By jenigmaa on 5/12/2009 11:19:23 AM , Rating: 2
It's offensive because people who are religious respect their religious figures, and would not like to see them defaced. Even if its supposed to be funny, the principle of the app is offensive.

RE: Strange
By Ryanman on 5/12/2009 12:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
Why exactly are "religious" people allowed to be angry though?
Anyone doing it isn't religious. And it's not like a photo shop job can't do MUCH worse. Google "Jesus F*cking Christ" for a good example.
People are ridiculed every day. It's something we have to live with.
That is, even if this can be deemed offensive. It's implied that you're superimposing your face on Jesus' but in reality it's just a template of old style robes that you put your head in. It could be, as I said in my OP, any shepherd, or any muslim leader (for muhammed). Religious nuts need to grow up.

RE: Strange
By jenigmaa on 5/12/2009 1:30:15 PM , Rating: 1
Everyone is allowed to be angry. I mean, I'm sure that Ingrid Newkirk (PETA president) would be pretty upset if I photo shopped her wearing a fur coat and sold it to people. Michael Jackson wouldn't be very happy if he was photoshopped riding in a big windowless child molester van. It's the fact that Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, and other religious leaders are important to a significant amount of people. It could be just any robe, but enough people tie that apparel to Jesus.

In the end, it's Apple's decision. Enough people are offended by it that Apple doesn't think its worth selling in its App Store. The profit from the app would not outweigh the controversy caused by it.

RE: Strange
By adiposity on 5/18/2009 1:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
Even if its supposed to be funny, the principle of the app is offensive.

Let me correct your statement:

Even if its supposed to be funny, everything is offensive to somebody .

If by "offensive" you mean "someone could be offended", that's probably true. Good luck finding an apple app (or any other company) that could not possibly be offensive to anyone.


apple "censorship"
By res08hao on 5/12/09, Rating: -1
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