If you're using an iPhone or iPad, then it's possible that you have Weed Firm installed on your device. The free app quickly became one of the most popular games on the iTunes app store, but on Wednesday, Apple removed the game, making it unavailable to download. This decision was made by Apple because the app promotes "illegal activities".
In a post, the app's developer Manitoba Games described the move as "entirely Apple's decision, not ours."
Apple is known for its strict guidelines in controlling what apps are available on the App Store, though in that case, why was the app approved in the first place?
Recently, Apple had also rejected HappyPlayTime, anapp that taught women how to masturbate. In this case, Apple had rejected the app in its review, telling the developers that Apple was "not interested in the concept".
These moves feel heavy handed and arbitrary,particularly when you take into account that Weed Firm was approved before being removed.
Weed Firm followed the story of an expelled botany sophomore, who inherits a marijuana growing operation and expands it. To win, you have to plan new varieties of weed, increase your yields, expand your customer base and bribe the police, to become the biggest dealer in town.
This certainly seems like something that would run afoul of Apple's policies, but is it, really?
The App Store also houses multiple Grand Theft Auto (GTA) games. These games were at the centre of a moral panic around video games which is yet to fully die down, but Apple has no issues with letting these games remain on the App Store.
A look at the content warnings for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City states that you must be at least 17 years old to download the game, which contains infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity, frequent/intense realistic violence, frequent/intense alcohol, tobacco, or drug use or references, and more.
The difference of course, is that GTA is a cultural phenomenon today, and is published by one of the most successful video game companies in the world, while WeedFirm is a small indie developed game.
On the Weed Firm developer's website the page reads: "If we let hypocrites determine whatcontent is suitable for us we will soon all be watching teletubbies instead of Breaking Bad and playing... oh I don't know... nothing good comes to mind, without some form of 'illegal activity' or [the] other really."
No one is suggesting that Apple should censor apps which are marked as meant for mature audiences, but the fact that some apps can depict violence, drugs and sex while others can't is simply ridiculous. When you're blocking an app for content which is tamer than what anyone can see on television, any day, then things get a little outof hand.