Apple Removes Nonprofit App Deemed Inappropriate

December 16, 2010; Source: Feministing.com | Apple is again making waves in the nonprofit world. Last week, Apple’s ban on nonprofit donations ruffled feathers across the sector. Now, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has had its application pulled from Apple’s shelves, and, as a result, the company is embroiled in a fight over gay rights.

Apple first approved the app, which gathers signatures to the Manhattan Declaration, which asks users to pledge not to “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships,” where NOM defines “immoral” as gay and lesbian partnership. A campaign by gay rights advocates pointed out that the app included not only the statement, but also a quiz, and the answers to the quiz were anti-gay. Apple subsequently had the app pulled in late November.

As Gawker points out Apple only has itself to blame for this scandal, “since it eagerly embraced morality as a test for inclusion in the app store. CEO Steve Jobs designated the store as a place with “freedom from porn” and from risqué fashion spreads, illustrated gay literature, political caricature and other controversial content.”

The issue of what nonprofits can and cannot do under Apple’s purview is at the front of this debate. If the company unilaterally pulled the app, it would be another fait accompli in a long line of undemocratic decisions made by Apple. But this is a civil society debate, and gay rights advocates succeeded in making Apple pay attention to their grievances. If anything, it shows that exerting pressure on the corporation can lead to changes in its behavior, and this has GLADD lobbying to have the app kept out of the iTunes store all together. It might also give signatories to the petition to allow nonprofit donations reason to be hopeful.—James David Morgan