How did "Baby Shaker" slip through the cracks? (Updated 2x)

How did "Baby Shaker" slip through the cracks? (Updated 2x)

Summary: In what can only be described as an oversight (at least one can hope) Apple approved an iTunes application that displayed a picture of a baby and played a crying sound.The "objective" of said app was to violently shake the iPhone or iPod touch until the crying stopped.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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In what can only be described as an oversight (at least one can hope) Apple approved an iTunes application that displayed a picture of a baby and played a crying sound.

The "objective" of said app was to violently shake the iPhone or iPod touch until the crying stopped. At which point two red X's are placed over the baby's eyes, implying of course, that you killed the baby. After protest erupted Apple removed the app from at around 1pm PT yesterday.

The description, written by a company called Sikalosoft, literally turns my stomach:

On a plane, on the bus, in a theatre. Babies are everywhere you don't want them to be! They're always distracting you from preparing for that big presentation at work with their incessant crying. Before Baby Shaker, there was nothing you could do about it. See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down!

Nice one Apple. It has denied dozens of apps -- for much lessor reasons -- and it sees fit to approve Baby Shaker?

There are only two ways that this could have happened: a) Apple's approval process is automated and it slipped through the cracks, or b) someone working for Apple approved the application for sale. If Apple's apps are indeed reviewed by a live, human being, I want to know who approved the application for sale and what Apple is doing about it. Apple has been completely mum on the subject.

As a parent of a young child, Apple's approval of this application infuriate me and is deeply offensive. In fact, it's the worst thing I've seen Apple do since I got my first Mac in 1984. In fact, I'm boycotting the App store until Apple explains how an application whose sole objective is to shake a baby to death as quickly as possible reached the Apple store.

1 billion apps downloaded? Who cares.

Calls to Apple PR weren't returned as of publication time. I will update this post if/when Apple responds...

Photo: Tom Krazit/CNET

[poll="176"]

Update: Apple has issued a lame and half-hearted apology to InformationWeek saying "This app is deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store... We sincerely apologize for this mistake." Apple refused to answer the questions I posed above about how the app got approved in the first place and what action is being taken against the employee(s) responsible for approving it.

Update 2: Baby Shaker developer Alex Talbot of Sikalosoft showed little sign of remorse for the tasteless game, saying "Yes, the Baby Shaker iPhone app was a bad idea" instead shifting the blame to Apple "It was approved by Apple for download upon the iPhone." Nice job Talbot. Good luck with that.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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46 comments
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  • Holy smoke

    This is bad PR. What a colossal SNAFU.
    urbandk
    • Especially since Apple blocks legitimate apps only to allow this trash. nt

      nt
      T1Oracle
  • It's okay, the baby was a PC

    Oh what a slippery slope you find yourself on when you start censoring things. While you might not approve of this app, who is Apple to say that no one has the right to play this game, a game which results in no one getting hurt? From the sounds of it, you would support banning all video games that involve killing along with any books about Poker. After all, gambling is a sin, right?

    To clarify, I'm taking the oh so standard approach to censorship on this one. While I wouldn't use this myself, I would never feel superior enough to presume to tell anyone that they weren't allowed to use it.
    NonZealot
    • Yuk yuk yuk

      This isn't funny, dude.
      urbandk
      • I agree. Censorship is never funny. (nt)

        .
        NonZealot
      • Zealot is correct. (Did I say that)

        Just because it offends your sense of morals gives you no right to ban something. Life is like that full of things that bother you or make you sick, either deal with it or walk away... Or move to communist China, I hear even google is offensive there allong with news; might be your thing.

        Surprised you can even traverse the interwebs with your hi moral standard, because they're filled with low-life's like my self.

        I'd say more but I might be banned.
        ~Obelix~
    • Censorship

      Agreed that censorship is a slippery slope. No doubt.

      But look at the apps that Apple has previously denied: http://boredzo.org/killed-iphone-apps/

      How did this one get approved?
      Brings up some pretty big question IMHO.

      Does it come down to some hourly worker somewhere that ultimately makes the call whether or not an app gets approved?

      Or is it an automated script? This might explain why the Tweetie 1.3 was rejected because the trends list included the hashtag ?#FuckItList?. Clearly something outside of the author's control.

      Apple crapped the bed on this one and needs to tell its side of the story IMHO.

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • You are proving my point

        [i]How did this one get approved?
        Brings up some pretty big question IMHO.[/i]

        How did it get approved? Because a human [b]other than you[/b] applied [b]their[/b] moral standards to the app and decided that it shouldn't be censored. Censorship will only work for any individual when that individual is in charge of censoring what apps are allowed on their phone which is why Apple's censorship will, [b]by definition[/b], be inconsistent with your moral standards. Again, there are [b]many[/b] people (not a large percentage but a large number) that feel gambling is immoral. Should Apple censor poker games?

        [i]Apple crapped the bed on this one and needs to tell its side of the story IMHO.[/i]

        Nope. You set Apple up for failure by presuming that their standards coincided with yours. That is your mistake, not Apple's.
        NonZealot
        • It's about consistency

          Apple requires all apps to be approved. One of their stated reasons is
          to prevent dispersal of offensive material. If Apple is going to make
          this claim then they need to stand by it.

          At one point in time Apple rejected an app called iBoobs. Basically the
          idea is that you have a picture of a woman's torso wearing bikini and
          by shaking the iPhone you can cause the breasts in the picture to
          jiggle realistically. A jiggling bikini is too offensive to release but
          killing a baby is fine?

          Apple doesn't have to censor the App store, and perhaps they
          shouldn't. But IF they do, THEN they <i>have a responsibility to enact
          and enforce consistent policies regarding content</i>. The point is
          that they do not do this. Staring at a woman's boobs as she walks
          down the beach in a bikini, although it may be lecherous, is
          considered normal, socially acceptable behavior. Shaking a baby to
          death is not. When you censor this erratically you deserve to be taken
          to task.

          I agree with Jason. Apple dropped the ball BIG TIME and they need to
          explain it If they don't then they need to stop approving apps based
          on content, period. Leave the approval process for coding quality
          alone.
          use_what_works_4_U
          • Consistent according to who?

            [i]A jiggling bikini is too offensive to release but killing a baby is fine?[/i]

            Not to you obviously but you don't represent 100% of the people in the world.

            [i]THEN they have a responsibility to enact
            and enforce consistent policies regarding content.[/i]

            You talk about consistency and using the definition of the word, this wasn't inconsistent at all. What would have been inconsistent would be banning one Baby Shaker app and not another.
            NonZealot
          • Once again, I think we largely agree

            Call it 90% this time.

            I support the jerk's (just my opinion there) right to create this app.
            Once it is created I would not stop anyone from using it, despite the
            fact that I find the app repulsive and I would find the user equally
            repulsive.

            I think censorship is bad and if it does not prevent harm then it is not
            appropriate.

            I ALSO feel that if a company's business model includes censorship
            then those of us who buy their products and hold their stock have a
            responsibility to question them when we perceive bad application of
            that policy. I am an Apple customer, I am an Apple stock holder. I
            think Apple should explain this very poor decision.

            I think the only (and imperfect) solution to the problem of controlling
            inappropriate content is some sort of age verification when
            purchasing mature themed content. Then dial back the content
            censorship to truly harmful or illegal content only. I also play GTA. I
            enjoy it thoroughly. I do NOT play it when my young children are
            around nor would I allow them to play it. That game has a mature
            rating on the box and you know what you are getting, just like you do
            with a Playboy magazine, a bottle of Maker's Mark or a pack of
            Camel's. The Mature label is intended to limit sales to those that the
            product is not appropriate for. The fact that merchants often sell
            such games to children anyway bothers me, but it is legal.

            The problem is that it's not as simple as "Censorship is evil" or
            "depicting violence is evil". Your position may be correct, but that
            doesn't allay my right to ask Apple why they made this decision and to
            withhold my money from them until they explain. That was the point
            of the article, and it is valid.

            My belief that Apple needs to explain its decision is not supportive of
            censorship. It is, in fact, a strong criticism of that policy. If you want
            to control what I have access to, you better lay out the guidelines.
            Apple has failed to do this and the baby Shaker incident is a wake up
            call.
            use_what_works_4_U
          • A few comments

            Yes, I do think we agree about a lot of this. If I didn't comment on it, it is probably because I agree.

            [i]I think the only (and imperfect) solution to the problem of controlling inappropriate content is some sort of age verification when purchasing mature themed content.[/i]

            Absolutely right and this is well within what I would call the realm of self-censorship. Parents get to decide for their kids what they can and cannot do. Are there any parental controls on the iPhone? That isn't a loaded question, I'm not aware of [b]any[/b] mobile platform with parental controls. It would be a good idea though considering how many kids have cell phones nowadays. If Apple added parental controls then there would be [b]no[/b] reason for Apple to censor anything that isn't malicious or illegal. Problem totally solved.

            [i]Your position may be correct, but that
            doesn't allay my right to ask Apple why they made this decision and to withhold my money from them until they explain. That was the point of the article, and it is valid.[/i]

            Except this decision doesn't require explanation. Apple has specified since day 1 that no offensive apps are allowed on the iPhone. This guideline wasn't a surprise to you when you bought the iPhone. When you paid Apple your money, you voted [b]for[/b] Apple to ban apps [b]Apple[/b] found offensive. What is happening here is that Jason is now complaining that what he [b]actually[/b] wanted was for Apple to ban apps that [b]Jason[/b] finds offensive. And this is why censorship fails because tomorrow, Jon might complain that Apple isn't banning poker games.
            NonZealot
          • Fair enough

            <i>Yes, I do think we agree about a lot of this. If I didn't comment on
            it, it is probably because I agree.</i>

            Good to know.

            <i>Parents get to decide for their kids what they can and cannot do.
            Are there any parental controls on the iPhone? That isn't a loaded
            question, I'm not aware of any mobile platform with parental controls.
            It would be a good idea though considering how many kids have cell
            phones nowadays. If Apple added parental controls then there would
            be no reason for Apple to censor anything that isn't malicious or
            illegal. Problem totally solved.</i>

            Again, we agree. My kids have an account on my Mac at home which
            is governed by parental controls. It works very well indeed.

            <i>Except this decision doesn't require explanation. Apple has
            specified since day 1 that no offensive apps are allowed on the iPhone.
            This guideline wasn't a surprise to you when you bought the iPhone.
            When you paid Apple your money, you voted for Apple to ban apps
            Apple found offensive. </i>

            We will have to disagree on this one, which is fine. I agree that I
            knowingly joined a system with censorship as a large component.
            Understand, though, that agreeing to live with a policy is not the same
            thing as endorsing a policy. I believe that I have a responsibility to
            speak up when a company does something that I think is grievously
            wrong. This is even more of a responsibility when I own stock in that
            company even though it is only a handful of shares. I accept the
            compromise, but I don't abdicate my responsibility to speak out about
            bad behavior.

            <i>What is happening here is that Jason is now complaining that what
            he actually wanted was for Apple to ban apps that Jason finds
            offensive.</i>

            Again we disagree and that's fine. You are right about Jason's actions,
            but I applaud them this time around. Why? As I just stated it is the
            responsibility of every citizen to speak up and speak out when they
            feel companies do something wrong. If the customers don't take a
            corporation to task then that corporation has no incentive to change
            it's ways. I am surprised at you since you so often point out that
            Apple's OS is capable of running on other hardware but they don't
            license it and (I think) you have said that people should complain
            about that. I respect your opinion but a policy is a policy and
            customer's complaints are customer complaints. I see no difference.
            Again, I understand you disagree.

            <i>And this is why censorship fails because tomorrow, Jon might
            complain that Apple isn't banning poker games.</i>

            Censorship won't fail, or rather won't be defeated, if customers don't
            complain. Why should a company worth billions change it's actions if
            I, or Jason, or any customer simply says "They got my money so I have
            no right to complain?" This is exactly why it is my responsibility to
            speak up. I understand your argument. I support your right to it. I
            respectfully disagree.
            use_what_works_4_U
    • It's a democracy when Apple says it is ...

      By signing up to be an App Store developer, you give Apple 100% latitude to make the decision on whether or not your app is acceptable to be in their store. By signing up to purchase apps from the App Store, you give Apple 100% latitude to make the decision on what apps are available to you.

      To make the argument that the developer has a right to sell this game, or that the consumer has a right to play it, is just not true.
      RationalGuy
  • Pornography is next

    Its only a matter of time before they approve other apps depicting our "sick/deviate" human nature.
    This could be a good wake up call....
    amasys
    • And next they will remotely wipe the pictures you take.

      [i]In a related story, all pictures taken with the iPhone will be sent to Apple HQ and reviewed before being saved on your phone. If the Apple censor deems the picture to be inappropriate (say, for instance, it is a picture of your baby taking a bath in the nude), then the iPhone will not save the picture, your GPS will be turned on, and your coordinates sent to the FBI.[/i]
      NonZealot
      • So you approve of Baby Shaker?

        NZ,

        Just so we're clear, you approve of the Baby Shaker app?
        Where do you draw then line?
        Child pornography?

        - Jason
        Jason D. O'Grady
        • Child pornography is illegal

          [i]Where do you draw then line?[/i]

          Baby Shaker isn't. Child pornography results in [b]real[/b] humans being hurt and / or exploited. Baby Shaker doesn't. The line, in this particular case, is [b]very[/b] easy to draw.
          NonZealot
        • Oh, and to answer the question in your subject...

          [i]So you approve of Baby Shaker?[/i]

          I approve of allowing individuals to download and play Baby Shaker. I personally would not play Baby Shaker because it seems stupid and pointless.

          However, I [b]do[/b] play Grand Theft Auto and truly enjoy it. I approve of running into innocent pedestrians at high speed when they get in my way while I'm trying to elude the police after having robbed a bank as long as the entire sequence exists only in the world of 1s and 0s. I would never approve of any of that if it hurt [b]real[/b] humans. I would never force you to play GTA though. I respect your right to self censorship but I don't respect your desire (or Apple's) to censor me.
          NonZealot
          • I support this line of thought.

            I personally would not play the game, but I can't make myself into some one of superior judgment and tell them not to play it. I think we are all entitled to our own vices and have the responsibility to determine right or wrong.
            nucrash