The world is on alert with the growing pandemic of COVID-19, and more than jump impacting health, the coronavirus is threatening the app development industry. The tech world isn’t immune to trending medical news, and app developers are often quick to leap into new products that address consumer concerns. In light of the severity of the global crisis with COVID-19, the software giant Apple has taken up the position of watchdog over the spread of misinformation.
No Freedom of Speech
Though people can parade around the streets and picket on the sidewalk screaming and chanting whatever they want under the guise of free speech, app developers have to submit their products for acceptance from a platform host, such as Google or Apple. Most often, apps are created and monitored primarily through the developer, though a consumer can report apps for different reasons. The type of control Apple has chosen display is more than a typical mobile app crash monitor process, which is often the main problem consumers have with an app or software. In the wake of the pandemic, Apple is rejecting apps that cover the coronavirus if they aren’t directly linked or produced by a recognized institution like a hospital or government agency. Recently, four independent developers experienced rejection over submission that would give people insight into which countries had reported confirmed cases of the virus. Though these apps relied on information taken from public data sources like the World Health Organization, Apple did not approve the live map or dashboard applications.
Guarding Consumer Interest
The severity of the impact on global health has already created a stampede of purchasing with regard to medications, cleaning agents, and protective equipment. The stock market has experienced ups and down based on the information that has been made public and the corresponding government responses. Apple has addressed its denial of a coronavirus-oriented app in an attempt to prevent the spread of misinformation. The app developers whose product was rejected were advised that any submissions dealing with current medication conditions or information will have to be hosted by a recognized institution. For Apple, it isn’t just about the institution or organization being represented, but the accuracy of the information and its original source. So far, Apple’s restrictions have severely limited the ability to find an app about the outbreak or there has been no obvious spam reported. However, there is some concern that restrictions aren’t really protecting consumer interest. There are those that want to have immediate access to tracking the outbreaking, as a matter of precaution and preparedness.
It isn’t just app developers that have to wrestle with what the new normal might look like and restricted access to software platforms. Big tech companies around the globe are trying to determine an appropriate response to the coronavirus outbreak across a variety of platforms. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, issued a statement concerning the company’s dedication to promoting credible and accurate information over the outbreak by removing content dealing with conspiracy theories. Google has made a move to ban ads that market anti-coronavirus products, and lists information from the World Health Organization at the top of any searches conducted concerning the coronavirus. Regardless of profit or positions, these companies are banding together and working to ensure that people are exposed to factual, rather than dangerous or false information.
All over the world, the tech industry is having to reconsider the plan for allowing either applications or advertisements, focusing these efforts in light of misinformation that could create potential harm for citizens. In the meantime, app developers are going to need another area of interest or team up with renowned medical institutions in hopes of getting their apps approved.