Apple Bans App That Shows Electronics’ Blood Trail

By Kristen Gwynne | Sourced from AlterNet

Phone Story is a funny game with a not-so-funny message.  By allowing players to assume the roles of technology’s manufacturers, it teaches players a lesson or two in the life-cycle of Apple products and the blood trail technology leaves behind. But Apple, apparently not too psyched on selling an app that reveals its own atrocious human rights record, banned the silly app just hours after its release.

The Yes Men are some of “more than forty trouble makers” behind the game, and its premise is right in line with their previous involvement in activism, which often involves targeting “leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else” and “Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them.”  As their Guerrilla Drive-In attack on the Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center shows, their activism is often rooted in fun.

The Yes Lab, The Yes Men’s activist training/brainstorming association, described the game this way:

Would you like to force an African child to mine for precious metals at gunpoint? “Phone Story,” a new iPhone app produced by Molleindustria, puts the player in the unsavory shoes of a smartphone executive. Each level in the game explores a different real-life problem in the consumer electronics life cycle: slavery and abuse in Coltan mines, suicide-inducing manufacturing plants, and health-destroying e-waste processing are reduced to a cute, low-res aesthetic driven by simple, addictive game play. The game is available in the iTunes store for 99 cents.

Game developers Paolo Pedercini and Michael Pineschi revealed their motives behind creating the game:

“We wanted to get this story into the hands of consumers, on the shiny devices we love to use but are causing this depraved, destructive cycle,” they said on the PhoneStory website.

Should Phone Story have remained on the market, “All of the revenues raised go directly to workers’ organizations and other non-profits that are working to stop the horrors represented in the game,” the phone’s website said.

According to, Apple banned the app for violating the following guidelines:

15.2 Apps that depict violence or abuse of children will be rejected

16.1 Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected

21.1 Apps that include the ability to make donations to recognized charitable organizations must be free

21.2 The collection of donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS

The makers of Phone Story “contest” violations 21.1 and 21.2 “since it’s not possible to make donations through Phone Story. Molleindustria simply pledged to redirect the revenues to no-profit organizations, acting independently.”

But the activists behind Phone Story have not given up.  The website says they are considering producing a new version of the App “that depicts the violence and abuse of children involved in the electronic manufacturing supply chain in a non-crude and non-objectionable way,” as well as releasing “a version for the Android market and jailbroken ios devices.”

The app is still available on the Android.

Activist, Unplugged from the Matrix. Action for Freedom!

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Posted in Corporate Censorship, Human Rights

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