Apple App Store Bans Pulitzer-Winning Satirist for Satire
Editorial cartoonist Mark Fiore may be good enough to win this year’s Pulitzer Prize, but he’s evidently too biting to get past the auditors who run Apple’s iPhone app store, who ruled that lampooning public figures violated its terms of service.
Fiore irked Apple’s censorious staffers with his cartoons making fun of the Balloon Boy hoax and the pair that famously crashed a White House party, according to Laura McGann at the Neiman Journalism Lab.
Fiore won a Pulitzer Monday for animations he made for the SFGate, the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle. But Fiore, who is a freelancer who runs a syndication business, was rejected by Apple in December for an app called NewToons that features his work.
According to a Dec. 21 e-mail reprinted by Neiman, Apple rejected his app because it “contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states: Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”
Neither Fiore nor Apple responded to requests for comment.
The news of the rejection comes not long after Apple decided to purge its App store of content that included nudity, a retroactive ban that included apps from respected German publications such as Bild and Der Spiegel.
Fiore’s rejection may be especially disconcerting to news and media organizations, many of which are betting heavily on iPad apps as a way to get users to pay to read magazines and newspapers, and to get advertisers to pay print-ad prices for online content. (Online ads cost a small percentage of what ads in glossy magazines cost, in no small part because the net has almost infinite advertising space.)
Apple has built a little slab of Disneyland with its iPad, which is meant to be an experience unsullied by provocative or crude material. It’s beautiful and enticing — the company has already sold more than a half million of them in the first two weeks it’s been available — but it’s not the real world.
Publishers, including such august organizations such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Wired.com’s parent company Condé Nast, see a solution to their declining dead-tree ad sales in building a pay-to-play attraction in that park. But they need to understand that to do so, they have to play by Mickey Mouse’s rules.
The signs have been there from the start, as Wired.com’s Brian Chen pointed out in February. Apple banned an e-book reading application once because it figured out that iPhone users could use it to read a free version of the Kama Sutra. Then last week, Apple abruptly banned apps developed using programs that translate apps into multiple platforms.
Adding the news of Fiore’s ban to that, the publishing world is now officially on notice that the iPad is Apple’s, and unlike with their print and web editions, they don’t have the final say when it comes to their own content on an Apple device.
Screenshot: Mark Fiore cartoon lampooning the nation’s telecoms for helping the Bush Administration illegally spy on their customers.
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