“Gay Cure” iPhone App Begs For Banhammer

There is no doubt that when you are looking through a SmartPhone like the Apple iPhone, the most impressive aspect of it is the variety of applications offered. There are apps for work, games, sports, news, money and more. In fact, one of the primary reasons to have a smart phone is the variety of applications, both free and priced, that are offered.

Recently, Apple has come under public criticism for some of the more controversial applications that have made their way onto the app store marketplace. The application in question was a “tool” that was supposed to help homosexuals become heterosexuals.

The application was created by, and named after, the group “Exodus International,” who boasted 35 years of ministry experience in their description. The app was apparently supposed to “educate and equip the Body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth.”

The application received a four-star rating, which meant that it had no offensive material according to the Huffington Post technology section where the app was reviewed. Nearly 200 people who rated it negatively seemed to disagree.

Pressure has now been put on Apple to remove this application because it is offensive; Change.org has even posted an online petition calling for its removal. This would not be the first time Apple has removed apps because they contained offensive material. Applications that show nude photos, for instance, are generally banned for being too inappropriate.

Likewise, Apple has removed apps that deal with homosexuality before. At the end of last year Apple removed an application entitled the “Manhattan Declaration,” where app users could sign their name to a declaration to ban gay marriage, after thousands of people signed an online petition to remove it.

The real issue here is how involved Apple needs to be in the approval of applications. With the App Store, Apple created a virtual marketplace of over 300,000 different apps to suit any person’s interests. Apple allows anyone to develop an application and submit it to be put in the official store, as long as it does not contain any offensive materials.

This interface allows for a variety of applications to be made available to Apple consumers. The market also provides a variety of different ideas to be spread to Apple consumers. While Apple puts out certain apps and decides which apps cannot be put out, they still allow new applications to be created and downloaded.

By having a marketplace that is accepting of (most) applications, Apple can take a more objective stance on which apps make the cut. This keeps Apple from getting into too much trouble when offensive apps are put up. Of course, it does not stop those who want to speak out.

If Apple were to step in and try and ban the anti-gay app, they would still come under criticism. Users would be mad at Apple for interfering with an application that was previously approved and trying to limit the right users have to create and share applications freely.

In reality, Apple is not to blame for the offensiveness of this application. The real people to blame are the creators of the app at Exodus International. They do not agree with the public opinion either, however. To them this application is made simply to aid those who are questioning their sexual orientation with a bias towards heterosexuality. Anyone who does not want to question this does not need to download the application.

Rather than blaming Apple for allowing this application to be put in the App Store, users should put pressure on the company to remove their application. Or, to take a cleverer route, a user could retaliate by creating an application that does the opposite of what this app does, help heterosexuals who are questioning their orientation find their true selves, no matter what or who that is.

Blaming Apple for the offensiveness of a group who created an app is like blaming a gun for killing people. The gun by itself is useless. It is not until bullets are put into the chamber and the trigger is pulled by someone that the gun has the power to harm people. Applications work the same way. When used by ignorant people an offensive app can be made. That does not make all apps bad, nor does it make Apple wrong for allowing it.

In the end it is the discretion of the consumer, not of Apple, to monitor which applications they will support through download and which applications they will ignore.

Sara Naor is a first-year film and media studies major. She can be reached at snaor@uci.edu.