Apple removed the controversial Third Intifada application from its iTunes App Store Wednesday night. The unanswered question, however, is how the app was approved in the first place.
The app was designed to help people who organize anti-Israel activities – ostensibly protests or flash mobs – and distribute news critical of Israel.
Apple, which practices strict control over all applications sold through its online stores, said the app was removed because it violated the terms of service that forbid applications that are “offensive to large groups of people.”
To get a sense of the rigorous approval process for apps at Apple, I spoke to David Sigal, co-founder of appSTUDIO, a leading Jerusalem-based application developer.
Sigal told HonestReporting that the app would have gone through a multi-level process, beginning with a computer screening to ensure that the app was bug-free. It would then be turned over to human screeners for more tests, including a content review.
While the emphasis during the testing process remains the technical performance of the app, attention is also paid to the content and purpose of the app, which would have raised eyebrows at Apple, David said.
“Most likely there was a first level employee who flagged the Intifada app for its questionable subject matter and that sent the app for review of a higher ranking Apple employee, who then made a judgment call to approve it,” he said.
So while Apple should be given credit for acting quickly to remove the app after the issue was raised by Israel’s Minister of Public Affairs, Yuli Edelstein earlier in the week, we should not forget that the company agreed to allow the app to appear in its store in the first place.