Tweetie 1.3 Rejected by Apple for Returning "Offensive Language" in Search Results (NSFW-L)

So, who could it be running the approval process for the iTunes App Store at Apple? Hmm. Tough one. Let us put on our little thinking caps here for a moment.... SATAN?!

No, of course, not, nor the Church Lady from SNL, but it must be someone equally cartoonish, how else do we reconcile the App Store rejecting Tweetie 1.3 for containing "offensive language" in search results returned from the public Twitter "Trends" rankings? (via Twitter)

We can search for all manner of unholy pr0n in Mobile Safari, should Apple Reject their own core application because of what it may return as well? Are they expecting developers to become censors and str the fck out of words the way Apple.com does? (see below).

Of course, this could just be one rogue App Store review processor gone horribly wrong, but Apple still bears responsibility for a totally opaque, seemingly capricious review process that creates incidents just like this -- over and over again.

They're likely selling enough fart apps and games to make this a small problem from their end, but they're losing badly when it comes to the good will of truly innovative developers and bleeding edge techies who form the core of any true next-generation platform.

Wake up, Apple. You're better than this.

(And good luck to Tweetie developer Loren Brichter on getting Tweetie 1.3 approved -- as it should be -- and into all of our waiting iPhones quickly!)

Screen shots showing the rejected "language" in Tweetie and others for the sake of comparison after the break (NSFW-L)...

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 37 comments. Add yours.

Jose Espinoza says:

I'm equally pissed off as well, I can't believe they would be so stupid. I've been waiting for this update and they seriously cockblocked big time.

jasonact says:

Although the fix for this is probably simple (resubmit as-is), your point is well-taken that Apple seriously needs more consistent standards and more transparency with the app-review process. Between this and the lack of a developer contract renewal process, I think it's fair to say that Apple has some major problems in their relationships with developers. I have to think that they see this and will take steps to correct. If not, WWDC 2009 could be very interesting. [think riot gear]

phile says:

Is Apple really better than this? They took two weeks to reject the last version of Tweetie, for whatever reason. And, let's not forget their 2 weeks+ delaying of the Amber Alert app approval.
It seems what we are seeing is the behavior of an arrogant, sometimes incompetent monopoly.
-phil

Jerry says:

What, are they going to ban their YouTube app as well? I can find plenty of instances of bad language there. I guess they can ban all if the other twitted apps as well then.
Apple makes such great products, but fails time and again with people, both designers and consumers. Oh well.

mboogie says:

Get it together apple....ur seriously losing cool points with everyone

josh says:

I think it's about time for a bunch of us iPhone developers to mount a protest at Apple about this. Apples behavior here is absurd and until the developers stand up and speak out nothing is going to change.

killakow says:

I'm seriously beginning to hate apple. I think it's time for a switch

Mike Ash says:

"Wake up, Apple. You’re better than this."
That's the trouble, they really aren't. The App Store approval process is capricious and twisted, and there's no indication that they have any desire to make it better.

A says:

Apple shouldn't decide what's offense FOR us.

Steve says:

Good thing I'm not in charge of the approval process... there would only be eight apps in the App Store right now. The rest would've been rejected.

carlhancock says:

Apple's approval process is completely absurd. Now they want app developers to filter offensive language from what amounts to search results? Is Apple owned by China?

llofte says:

That's just stupid. Kinda makes me angry.

thekevinmonster says:

My feelings on this matter will be censored out of this post by TIPB's blog software :(

sting7k says:

So why wasn't Google Mobile App rejected, it returns "potentially offensive" language. Does TiPB censor out language? Fuck Shit, Cock Balls.
Maybe Apple can create an ear muffs app for all those who get in a tizzy over some words.

Kento Ito says:

I think it might be best to program auto censor on the apps.
If the app were to have foul language, the app developer must rate the app at higher age group. It's the rules.
Seriously, if you keep bitching about the apple's ridiculous policy, my tip, DON'T GET AN iPHone, OR ALL SERIOUSNESS, YOU DON'T DESERVE AN APPLE PRODUCT. APPLE PRODUCTS ARE PRIVILEGES, AND YOU HAVE TO KEEP THE PRIVILEGES BY FOLLOWING THE APP STORE RULES, AND COMPLY WITH APPLE'S LETTERS.

Dan says:

This stuff no longer surprises me. Apple's blackbox review system is just absurd. We had an app rejected recently for, and I quote, "limited user functionality". Our app does more than at least 5 apps currently in the top 100. Apple has since approved an app called "nothing" that does what it says: nothing.
Apple's review process needs to be FAR more transparent and the reasons for approval and rejection need to be described clearly somewhere.
We've since resubmitted our app. If you're interested in following the results you can find us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rareapps - just don't try to use Tweetie 1.3 ;-)

Gee says:

Either stop buying iPhones or Stop whining. I agree Apple is beginning to get stupid. No flash, no cut & paste.

Dave says:

When my contract is over, I'm switching phones. The iPhone is beginning to look like a toy with so many rules..

jasonact says:

Come on, people, let's not forget about Hanlon's razor. I think that, more than anything else, applies here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor

jasonact says:

Darn auto-linking.
Try Hanlon's razor:http://is.gd/hylj

The Reptile says:

How do we know that it wasn't an Apple employee who posted the offensive statements on Twitter in the first place? Could be an iPhone engineer commenting about an colleague who departed for Palm. And how much less offensive were these comments than the ones that Jobs directs at his employees when the screw up? Until Apple becomes sweet an pure as the wind driven snow they should stop acting like they are the only ones following a moral code.

AwayBBL says:

I've been battling with Apple on an app submission. It's a "yo' Momma" app (of which several are already in iTunes). They claim that it could be offensive to some people. Well yeah! It's intended to be offensive, it's "yo' momma" jokes, not a diatribe about Obama, or George Bush.
Apple needs to lighten up, and get a sense of humor. At the least they should let the developers rate their apps based on age appropriateness. We can sort of do it for games, but not for any other app.
Heck it's already been pointed out above that for other content on iTunes, there doesn't seem be be any censoring, so why do it on apps?
Maybe what the developers should do is stop posting any new apps, and switch to developing for G1/Google phone, or RIM devices, or dare I say it, windows mobile devices. That would surely get Apple's attention.

Jeffdc5 says:

I can understand why apple does this most apps in the store are very consistent and beautiful and work well. Most of the apps on my g1 either make the phone slow or kills the battery. You might hate it but apple is trying to curb complaints by the razr crowd that switched over not us smartphone veterans

Adrian says:

We just had a "dirty word" rejection by Apple for our Twitter-powered social weather app called "Human Weather".
Check out the offensive screenshot - http://www.twitpic.com/1zfrm
We then added a "bad word" filter to the app and we got approved within a few days.
Our app is now live and currently FREE:http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=306620...

rosenkrieger says:

WTF Apple?! I really like the products, but what they are doing to DEVs is simply ridiculous. Especially now with this example of how stupid the whole process is.
I mean - hey please remove Safari next then. After all I could surf to a porn site, or look at a dictionary in OSX - just wow - all those dirty words in there. REMOVE IT NOW APPLE!
This is just so stupid. But so are US Laws. Yeah you can't look at a naked breast (oh no!) but at 9 a.m. you can watch heads get cut off on TV on saturdays.

spank says:

Has anyone given consideration that their "rejection" might be politically motivated, meaning, they'd rather see a different app launched first? One that they may have cut some kind of agreement with? This happened with our app (not mentioning names). Of course nothing can be proven, but after a few lunches with Apple exec's, voila, our App appeared. The whole process is opaque, politicized, and nepotistic. Not to mention their "2 week" process almost always turns into weeks and months. This effectively ruined our launch window and guess what? A competitor with an "spotlighting" agreement go approved in under 2 days. Awesome Apple. Wait until more stories like this start to come to the surface and you might have yet another class action lawsuit on your hands.

Peter says:

Apple are going downhill while Steve is on his leave of absence. I hope he gets better soon and sorts out this mess...

matt says:

might want to update the article 1.3 is now approved

Chris says:

Still showing 1.2.1 for me?

phile says:

Keep checking... it just showed-up for me. Grabbing it now.
-phil

George says:

Is it possible that the screenshot was rejected (for the preview that appears on the App Store), not the app itself? Just wondering, I really don't know if Apple takes sample screenshots of the app or relies on the developer to do this. If that is the case, and this sample posted here and on Daring Fireball with the offensive words was submitted to Apple to be added to the app's page, then I wouldn't be surprised if Apple said "please make another screenshot, this shouldn't be the sample".
If this isn't the case, then I agree with everybody else that Apple has some weird policies regarding app rejection in this case.

Badinoff says:

"DON’T GET AN iPHone, OR ALL SERIOUSNESS, YOU DON’T DESERVE AN APPLE PRODUCT. APPLE PRODUCTS ARE PRIVILEGES, AND YOU HAVE TO KEEP THE PRIVILEGES BY FOLLOWING THE APP STORE RULES, AND COMPLY WITH APPLE’S LETTERS."
HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THE WILL OF THE OMNIPOTENT JOBS! STUPID CUSTOMERS! DON'T YOU COMPREHEND HOW FORTUNATE YOU ARE TO EVEN BE ALLOWED TO CRADLE OUR PRODUCTS IN YOUR GRIMY HANDS! GIVE US YOUR MONEY AND SHUT UP!
-- A Public Service Announcement From The Apple House of Worship ---

Dumb says:

funny that Apple won't allow that, but they have no problem selling me Snoop Doggy Dogg songs like this one (yes, lyrics show up on my iPhone)--
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/snoopdogg/aintnofunifthehomiescanthavenon...

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