Pavel Durov, CEO of the popular messaging app Telegram has slammed Apple for the way it blocks certain apps from its App Store and restricts the content that’s allowed in approved apps.
Durov pointed to the restrictions Apple has imposed on Telegram which not only require the messaging app to censor content but also force the developers to hide this fact from users in some instances:
“Apple even restricts us – app developers – from telling our users that certain content was hidden for iPhone users specifically at their request. Apple should realize how ridiculous their attempt to globally censor content looks: imagine a web browser deciding which websites you are allowed to view.”
Durov also noted that even when app updates aren’t blocked by Apple, the App Store review process often results in them being delayed and reaching customers “several days or weeks after they are actually ready, because Apple’s review team is notoriously inefficient and often delays approval for no apparent reason.”
Additionally, the Telegram CEO described the “vicious circle” created by Apple’s App Store dominance which prevents competing mobile operating systems (OS) from gaining traction:
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“Devs don’t build apps if the OS doesn’t have enough users, and users don’t buy phones if there aren’t enough third-party apps for them.”
He added: “No matter how much you invest in building an alternative, the 2020 mobile OS market is closed to new entrants.”
Telegram has run up against Apple’s censorship several times with the Apple previously blocking Telegram’s app from updating for almost two months.
Apple also blocks Telegram channels that contain “hate speech” or pornography with the block on pornography being something that Apple doesn’t enforce against certain other apps such as Twitter.
Telegram is one of many apps that has been subject to Apple’s censorship over the years.
In China, Apple often removes apps and games from the App Store in response to Chinese government demands.
Free speech software company Gab’s experience with Apple is one of the most illuminating examples of how Apple’s censorship can prevent competitors to the entrenched Big Tech companies from reaching mobile customers.
Gab has created several alternatives to the main services offered by the social media giants including an alternative free speech social network, an alternative browser (Dissenter browser), and an alternative news aggregator (Gab Trends).
Gab has attempted to distribute mobile versions of its social network and Dissenter browser via the App Store but Apple rejected them both and subsequently banned Gab’s developer account – a move that prevented Gab from submitting apps to the App Store.
When rejecting the Dissenter browser, Apple admitted it didn’t violate any terms but rejected the app based on “defamatory and mean-spirited content” in Gab’s other products outside of the App Store.
Many users on other Big Tech social networks post what could be classed as mean-spirited content which is visible in their iOS apps yet these companies are allowed on the App Store and can build their dominant position by getting access to the billions of customers that use the App Store every month.