My App Rejected By The App Store Because It Could Be Used To 'Ridicule Public Figures'

April 17, 2009

Bailout Bucks is a simple novelty app for the the iPhone that lets you put your picture as the face of a fake dollars in large denominations (100 Million to 500 Trillion) and send them as emails to people.


A (much smaller than actual) Bailout Buck.

I included a few photos and canned signatures just as something to play around with, most the past half-dozen US Presidents and a few other officials, all public domain. Since money usually comes with a President or famous person on it, it seemed a no-brainer. The main point was to put you or a friend's picture on it and send it to them for a chuckle.

Apparently someone in Apple's reviewing group didn't find it funny. I guess after all the near-soft-porn, bathroom humor, weapons fire and mob violence app, money was a non-starter.

The most irritating thing about this is not so much that Apple has a standard of the day (which clearly can change over time) but that no hint was given what exactly I can do to warrant approval, just the canned "ridicules public figures" and chapter and verse of "Section 3.3.12". Helpfully it did mention that I could resubmit it without violations. Of course it didn't helpfully mention what exactly I could do.

My artist and I worked hard on the app, drawing all that high quality fake money (and making it Secret Service Safe) with so many zeroes is not easy. I don't want to make random changes and resubmit over and over with no clear idea what the issue is. If the whole concept of a Bailout Buck is the issue, then nothing I do will ever fix it.

Any application could be used to ridicule public figures; I could write a snarky editorial in a word processor or draw a nasty cartoon with a drawing app (if I could draw!), or for that matter tweet something awful. I find it hard to imagine anyone other than a few Wall St CEO's who wouldn't find their picture on a trillion dollar bill anything but humorous.

I worked at Apple Developer Support briefly in the mid-90's and we were always encouraged to go the extra mile to support developers, given the importance of their support for the platform, and DTS still does this. I have a few friends there still but I don't really want to go through them to get assistance on this. Maybe the volume is so great that Apple simply can't manage the flow and thus is unable to provide the level of support that is necessary. I don't know and the Black Hole nature of the process is irritating to a lot of people. Are apps held up by individuals who might have a personal reason for rejecting apps? Is there a supervisory level of checking? Does anyone know?

I never expected this rejection reason, the app seems very mild and inoffensive. Now I know how these folks felt

Update: Submitted and rejected again. Submitted and waiting again.