Apple removed a Hong Kong protest tracking app. They are being criticized for removing the app from their app store. In an effort to reduce the negative publicity of China, Apple has asked the creators of Apple TV+ shows to not engage in advertising a bad image of China. This is what a report from BuzzFeed News saying; that apple has been telling it’s show creators not to show China in a negative light.
The reason behind all these efforts by Apple is, they wish to maintain their access to the Chinese market. In the year 2016, China reportedly shut down the access to Apple iBooks and iTunes movies. They are looking to avoid a similar situation and to remain on the good side of the Chinese government.
Apple removed the app called HKmap.live from the app store. Apple CEO says that Apple’s decision to remove the app is not open for discussion. They had received information that individuals were using that app to target the police. The app was removed when the lead newspaper of the Chinese communist party- People’s Daily published an article criticizing the tech giant for aiding with the rioters and also accused the software to be poisonous for having its way.
The app apparently collects information from different social media sites like Facebook, Telegram, and various news streams to pinpoint the location of the protestors and the police. Tim Cook also explained that he received information from the technology crime bureau, cybersecurity and also from the users that the app is being used to locate places where there are no police present or places where individual officers could be targeted.
There is a lot of skepticism around the explanation provided by Tim Cook mainly because apple assembles most of its products in China, which is also their third-largest market for sales. It is not just Apple that is receiving such treatment from China.
Blizzard banned a player named Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai from the competition for the video game named Hearthstone. He has been removed from the tournament by Blizzard because according to them he is ineligible to take part in the Hearthstone esports for a year and refused to give him his prize winnings. This decision came into being after Chung violated some rules related to offending a group or a portion of public according to Blizzard. But in reality, this happened because Chung openly tweeted his support for the Hong Kong riots. Blizzard is being criticized for trying to stay in the good books of the Chinese government to maintain good relations.
U.S Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has also criticized the gaming company for making censor calls on freedom of expression just to make money. Blizzard denied all accusations saying that the decision was in no way related to their relationship with China. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack also stated that the decision was not based on the views expressed but simply because of the violation of the rules. He simply said that the company’s relationship with China did not influence the decision.
Blizzard received a wave of criticism for its harsh move to penalize Chung. Several gamers have deleted their accounts and cancelled the pre-orders of their games too. Chung’s ban has been reduced to 6 months, and all his prize winnings have been awarded to him. Blizzard made amends after realizing that the penalty for a tweet was a bit too harsh, but nonetheless the controversy has caused a lot of backlash from the gamers, and even a few U.S senators have tweeted about the issue.