Apple is cracking down on apps that feature the Confederate flag in the wake of last week’s church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
The company is joining Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, and other retailers in taking a stand against the flag, which has become a symbol of shooter Dylann Roof’s attack on Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church. Roof is pictured holding a Confederate flag in a photo that spread quickly online after the shooting. South Carolina is now moving to ban the flag from its state Capitol building.
Developers who used Confederate imagery in their apps were informed Thursday morning that Apple had pulled them from the App Store.
“We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines,” an Apple spokesperson told BuzzFeed. “We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”
Those apps include games like Hunted Cow’s Civil War series and Ultimate General: Gettysburg. Andrew Mulholland, who directed the Civil War games, told Kotaku that his apps weren’t using the flag in an offensive way. “They were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time,” he told the gaming site.
Why this matters: When Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about eradicating racist symbols in the aftermath of the shooting, many Cupertino-watchers noticed that Confederate imagery abounded in the App Store.
The company clearly had to make a move, and according to BuzzFeed’s sources, Apple is working with developers whose apps were pulled. Mulholland told Kotaku that his solution is to use a Confederate flag used in 1861 and 1862, as the one widely associated with Confederate-era nostalgia didn’t emerge until late 1862. The developers behind Ultimate General: Gettysburg have decided not to alter their game and have accepted Apple’s decision to remove it from the App Store.
We have reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story with more information if they respond.