updated 05:04 pm EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Company criticized for bowing to government pressure
Apple has reportedly pulled a censorship-circumventing app from the Chinese iOS App Store. The app, titled FreeWeibo and developed through collaboration with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, is said to have worked around the government's censorship filters for content posted on the Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo.
The app is believed to have been removed due to pressure from the Chinese government, according to a Agence France-Presse report that was spotted by AppleInsider. Apple's app review board allegedly told the developer that its app was pulled because it violates local laws.
Apple has been criticized for allegedly bowing to government pressure rather than maintaining consistent App Store content guidelines. The company removed several other titles from the Chinese App Store in recent months, including an app with banned books and a utility that bypassed the government's Internet firewall.
"Apple's image of being a hip and trendy company is eroding -- the brand will hold little cachet for the consumer because of actions like these and in the long run that means less Apple devices will be sold," said a FreeWeibo co-founder who goes by the pseudonym Charlie Smith. "Apple makes it impossible for apps concerned with issues such as free speech or human rights to find a home in the Chinese App store."