Apple and Google are cracking down on mobile apps that purport to provide consumers with information about the coronavirus but aren’t affiliated with official institutions like hospitals or governments, according to a new report.
CNBC reported Thursday that four independent developers said Apple has rejected their apps that would have allowed users to view statistics about which countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Some of these apps relied on public data from sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) to create dashboards or live maps, according to the report. But at least one developer received a response from Apple saying “apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognized institution.”
Google is also rejecting unofficial coronavirus-themed apps for Android smartphones in keeping with company policy forbidding apps that “capitalize on a natural disaster” or “atrocity” or appears to “profit from a tragic event with no discernible benefit to the victims.”
CNBC reported that a search for “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” on Thursday returned no results on Google’s app store in the United States, which the news outlet called “an intentional move from Google to prevent misinformation.”
Google’s android app store has published a site called “Coronavirus: Stay informed,” which features suggested apps, including software from the Centers for Disease Control and the Red Cross.
The decisions come as Silicon Valley giants take steps to determine how to deal with a flood of misinformation and unscrupulous profiteers looking to make a quick buck on coronavirus hysteria.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Tuesday that he’s “focused on making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information” about coronavirus, adding that Facebook is “removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations.”
Zuckerberg also said Facebook is “blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation — for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease.”
Amazon told merchants last month that it is taking down listings claiming to be a treatment, cure, or remedy for the coronavirus, according CNBC.