Last Thursday evening Michael Gartenberg, who’s a smart analyst, and blogger, tweeted that he’d searched for “Jewish” in Android Market and came up with some Nazi trash. Sure enough, he was right. The moron who was selling a “Hitler theme” and other related junk had used “jewish” and “jews” as keywords. Mind you, this crap was like five screens down, you really had to be working to see it.

Anyhow, Android Market has pretty clear-cut policies about this kind of thing and someone filed a takedown request in the right place, and now that stuff is gone. The next morning Mr. Gartenberg wrote: “From Google. ‘the apps have been removed as a violation of Android content policy’ the system does work.” I think so too; thanks for that, Mr. G.

Check out Joshua Topolsky’s Editorial: Waiter, there's a Nazi theme in my Android Market over at Engadget, which, while it gives this particular tempest more attention than its teapot size probably deserves, does ask the right question: Might the benefits of keeping Nazis out of the store make up for the costs of prior-restraint censorship? I’d offer this case as evidence in favor of the current setup: Anyone can publish anything, but there’s a smooth well-oiled process for ripping the weeds out of the garden, once they get noticed. I’d be interested in Mr. Gartenberg’s retrospective take.

It’s an interesting question, and I’m sure there are more chapters to be told in this story.

Now let me jump out in front of the libertarians and free-market fundamentalists and free-speech absolutists who are going to whine about us policing Android Market: It’s not a public commons, it’s a store. But hey, if it’s essential to your happiness that National Socialism or triple-X video or warez or trademark knock-offs be available on your Android device, they’re out there; click the little check-box on the “Applications” settings screen and you can load apps from any old scuzz-farm out there that you want. Or, more usefully, mail them around and post them on wikis and lots of other things that have come to seem essential to me.

Let me exit on a cheery note: while I’m quite certain that there are commercial opportunities in porn and warez and copyright knock-offs (assuming you can find somewhere to host your server and avoid getting busted) I’m pretty sure that nobody’s going to make any serious coin selling Hitler themes.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: JulesLt (Aug 15 2010, at 23:20)

Big money, no, but those Neo Nazis evidently don't make all that junk they wear - someone, somewhere, is making it, and I'd wager the people making it don't believe in it.

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From: Jim T (Aug 16 2010, at 00:57)

Good article. Pre-filtering is certainly an interesting question. I'm not even sure if changing the store would affect android sales in the least.

However, about "It's a store". It's only a store if there are actual and easy alternatives. I currently don't know of any alternative market app that I can put on my phone. The usual suspects (appbrain, appaware, double twist) are all interfaces to the main market.

So in that situation, it's not just a store, it's the ecosystem. Hacky workarounds like checking a setting buried in the menus (that a non-developer wouldn't even go into) isn't the point unless you're getting pedantic. And I know of at least one phone that's had that feature disabled.

I would actually welcome a second market. I don't think anyone denies that it would be good to have some sort of rating system, and an alternative market could fulfill that need. Or even have a default filtered market, and a second market that's run under the current rules. Dev's could then work to get their app 'promoted'. Whatever works.

The downside is of course, that there would be far fewer apps in that filtered store, so the marketing droids would have a field day (50k apps? Well, apparently only 1k are even worth looking at ...)

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From: A Libertarian (Aug 16 2010, at 07:19)

Sounds like you're a little confused about us "libertarian, free market fundamentalists" Tim. We'd be the first ones to support your right to do anything with the Android Market that you like. I certainly prefer your model to Apple's locked down App Store, but both would be completely legitimate in a free society.

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From: len (Aug 16 2010, at 09:37)

Nazis in a teapot are fine. Add boiling water and let them steep.

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From: Jim Ancona (Aug 17 2010, at 19:09)

Jim T, you must not have looked very hard. A quick search found http://slideme.org/, http://andappstore.com/, http://andspot.com/ (in beta) and http://www.mikandi.com/ (for porn). so the alternatives are out there. I don't know if any of them feature Nazi themes.

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From: Paul Maidment (Aug 20 2010, at 14:39)

If we truly want freedom, maybe a removal of the 'No compete' clause from the market terms would allow for some friendly competition and encourage innovation to offer more choice to the consumer with respect to these issues?

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