If you somehow haven’t noticed, this election is really weird, as both candidates and their supporters have taken to the Internet to discover the best way to gain access to the highest authority in the United States. Included in that process apparently are memes, which have become so essential to the 2016 Presidential Election that certain ones such as Pepe the Frog have been declared hate symbols and are now a reason to be banned from platforms. Or at least that is what the developer of a pro-Trump mobile game Build the Wall is claiming.
Twitter user @bakedalaska is a political activist more than a game developer, but decided to try and reach the masses by introducing a Donald Trump-themed mobile game for free on iOS. The game was set to release this week but was banned from the Apple Store for questionable content. According to the email shared by the user, Apple banned the game for its use of Pepe the Frog, a popular meme that within the last month was declared a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. As the game was never released it is hard to tell if Pepe was actually used in a defamatory manner. The email instructs the app creator to remove the “offensive” content.
— Baked Alaska 3X™ (@bakedalaska) October 19, 2016
Apple is well known for its strict policies regarding the App Store and has banned other apps for similarly benign offenses, particularly politically charged ones. In the past, Apple banned an app that allowed users to bounce a variety of politicians, including Obama, Sarah Palin, and a pantsless Bill Clinton, on a trampoline in the Oval Office. On the other side of the political spectrum, Apple banned an app which allowed users to simulate throwing shoes at George W. Bush. However, those apps were likely banned for their portrayal of real persons in a supposedly derogatory way.
Other Pepe the Frog themed apps are still available in the App Store, seemingly unbanned, and Apple has not announced any formal changes to their policies. This is not the first time Apple has been accused of bias, as they were also accused after banning a game critical of the other main Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton. A quick perusal of the app store shows games and apps which favor and oppose both candidates (and some which are hard to determine an opinion from).
We reached out to Apple and to Alaska several days ago to get more information on the story or the reason for it. We have not been responded to by either party, but if we get more information we will update this article.
Build the Wall is available now on Android if you want to try it out.