Unjected, Dating App Created for the Unvaccinated, Banned From Apple Store Over COVID-19 Misinformation
A spokesperson for Apple said the founder’s encouragement of using words that help posts avoid detection was just one of the reasons for the ban.
A Tinder-like app for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 has been banned from Apple’s App store, but seems to still be available to the unvaccinated seeking connection through dating or friendship on Android devices via Google’s Play Store.
The app’s new social media feature “inappropriately refers to the COVID-19 pandemic in its concept or theme,” Apple said in an emailed statement to the founders of the app, Unjected. The founders shared the statement on their social media accounts.
Apple said they originally rejected Unjected in its initial review process, but approved it after the app made changes, a spokesperson told Bloomberg. Since then, updates in the app and statements made by its developer “once again bring it out of compliance,” Apple said, pointing to the app's alleged encouraging of the use of words or terminology that helps people avoid detection.
"This is a violation of our guidelines, which make it clear: 'If you attempt to cheat the system…your apps will be removed from the store,” a spokesperson told Bloomberg.
"Obviously these tech giants do what they want. But, it doesn’t make it any less a violation of the 1st amendment," Unjected's co-founder Shelby Thomson, 27, told Inside Edition Digital, referring to the constitutional right concerning the freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and the right to petition the Government without fear of punishment. Additionally, the First Amendment protects against laws made by Congress, and, by extension of the Fourteenth Amendment, states, not companies like Apple and Google.
In its app’s description on the Google Play Store, Unjected, started by two moms from Hawaii, touts itself a “safe space for the unvaccinated to come together uncensored through business, friendship or love.” The post also includes misinformation about the vaccines, including that “long-term health consequences are unknown.”
Thomson and her 37-year-old co-founder, Heather Pyle, who works as a spa manager, started the app in May, after mainstream dating apps including Tinder, Hinge, Match, Bumble and Plenty of Fish, teamed up with the White House to encourage users to get vaccinated, Insider reported.
While the app’s primary function is to connect people privately, a new social feed feature led to posts about “experimental mRNA gene modifiers,” “bioweapons,” “nano-technology microchips” and the 5G network, which eventually got the app flagged by Google Play, Bloomberg reported.
"The social feed and chatrooms where people were expressing their personal opinions, is what got us into an unfavorable position with apple and google [sic]," Thomson said in a statement to Inside Edition Digital. "I’m supposed to 'moderate' whatever they find questionable or objectionable."
Google Play had issued a warning to Unjected about the posts in July, giving them two weeks to remove the posts or be banned, according to Bloomberg. Unjected did remove the social feed feature in response to the warning, and is now still available for download on Android devices.
Unjected also had an Instagram account that appeared to be against vaccinations, Insider reported. It was banned by the social media platform as of Monday, the New York Post reported.
Thomson, however, rejected being labeled as against vaccinations. “We definitely aren’t fond of being coined 'anti-vaxxer' but instead we are a group of people who are standing up for bodily autonomy and freedom of choice," she said to Inside Edition Digital.
She told SWNS in June that they feel they are being treated like "second class citizens for not taking the vaccine. We don't appreciate the segregation and we don't approve of it, so we decided to create our own community where we feel welcome."
She added that in addition to helping those who unvaccinated find love, she also hopes the app can help businesses find clients and employees that are also unvaccinated.
"We get called 'anti vax Tinder' [sic] but we're far from it," Thomson said to Inside Edition Digital. "We are more than just for dating & friendships. Unjected is also a community directory for people to choose to support small businesses and professionals who are respectful of personal freedoms."
Thomson also said she hopes to be able to bring back features disabled in response to the warnings and bans, Insider reported.
However, the app seemed unpopular even among its users. It has been rated only 2.8 stars out of 5 on Google Play, with more 1-star reviews than 5 stars. One comment from a user claimed the app “is displaying my address when I never entered that information anywhere,” and another called the app “practically unusable. More bugs than the Amazon rainforest.”
Thomson said the privacy concern mentioned by the user was a case of "user error" while creating a profile. "You don’t have to list or use your location services at all to utilize the app," she said to Inside Edition Digital. "I’m sure they all reached out via email and got help."
The app’s ban comes amid a nearly year-long fight between big tech companies and the spread of misinformation and disinformation. The movement began last year when Facebook announced it would remove all content related to QAnon.
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