Apple Suddenly Banned an App That Maps U.S. Drone Strikes

Apple Suddenly Banned an App That Maps U.S. Drone Strikes

Freelance journalist and data artist Josh Begley has been methodically recording U.S. military drone activity for years. Every week or so — whenever the strikes occur — Begley will post a news story from the @dronestream Twitter account, identifying when and where drone strikes have occurred before feeding the results into an app called Metadata+.

But on Sunday, Dronestream tweeted that Metadata+, which sends out push notifications every time there is a U.S. drone strike, had been removed from the App Store after seven months of being openly available.

Begley will still update followers about the drone strikes via his Twitter account. However, the app's removal is sudden and inexplicable; it was accepted by the App Store after five attempts.

Apple still aspires to be a hub for serious news. It's building tools like Apple News to help journalists and publishers reach new audiences. But Apple's opaque filtering process shows that it may not be ready to decide for the public what kind of content we should or shouldn't be exposed to.

Earlier this month, Apple censored a journalistic app that took you to the scene of the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting of Michael Brown. The tech giant has also taken down educational apps that depicted the Confederate Flag in its historical context. All while allowing for apps that include violence and graphic depictions of war, like Hitman: Sniper and Zynga's Empires and Allies.

Then again, those apps all include in-app purchases from which Apple collects revenue. And none of them is offensive to the United States government.