Apple has removed an app called “Unjected” from the App Store for violating its guidelines around COVID-19 and misinformation, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The app, which billed itself as a place for “like-minded people that support medical autonomy and free speech,” was available in the App Store until Bloomberg reached out of comment.
The report from Bloomberg explains that Unjected launched in May, allowing users to make a profile, match and message with other people, and more. Essentially, the app was a dating service for anti-vaxxers, and its launch coincidentally coincided with Tinder and Bumble adding perks to encourage users to get vaccinated against COVID-19, leading Unjected to become known as “Tinder for anti-vaxxers.”
Recently, Unjected also added a social feed, similar to Facebook and Twitter, which triggered a review by Google Play.
A routine update to the app triggered a review by Google Play that found it hadn’t sufficiently policed user-generated content for misinformation. In emails to Unjected, Google flagged posts that included claims of vaccines being “experimental mRNA gene modifiers,” “bioweapons” and “nano-technology microchips” used to link people to the 5G network.
Google told Unjected on July 16 it had two weeks to remove the posts from its app store or get booted off. “We’ve had to walk a censorship tightrope,” co-founder Shelby Thomson said. Unjected removed the social feed to get back in compliance on Google Play but Thomson said she plans to restore it, along with the flagged posts, and hopes to “stay under the radar.”
Meanwhile, Unjected remained available on the App Store until recently. Bloomberg reports that the application was removed after it reached out to Apple for comment on the app being available in the App Store. Apple informed the Unjected developers that the app was removed because it “inappropriately refers to the COVID-19 pandemic in its concept or theme.”
Apple had originally denied Unjected during the initial review process and approved the app after it made changes to comply with Covid-19 policies, an Apple spokesperson said. Since then, “the developer has made statements externally to its users as well as updates to the app that once again bring it out of compliance,” Apple said, adding that Unjected encouraged users to avoid using certain words to avoid detection. “This is a violation of our guidelines, which make it clear: ‘If you attempt to cheat the system…your apps will be removed from the store.’”
Apple’s App Store guidelines require that applications have ways to review user-generated content and that all apps related to COVID-19 come from health-focused institutions.