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Apple Rejecting Coronavirus Apps That Are Not From Recognised Institutions Like Governments, Hospitals: Report

Apple is cracking down on apps related to coronavirus, a day after Google stopped showing search results for ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’ in the Play Store. The Cupertino-based giant is rejecting all un-verified apps related to the COVID-19 disease that aren’t from hospitals or recognised health institutions or the governments, a report said on Thursday, March 5. Apple will reportedly only approve applications that have been released by health organisations like the World Health Organisations (WHO), hospitals or governments, iOS developers have said.

A report by CNBC quotes four independent iOS developers who confirmed to the the publication that Apple rejected their apps related to the coronavirus outbreak. Some of these apps, the report says, even used public data from reliable sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) to give stats on the countries affected by the outbreak.

The developers were quoted as saying that Apple employees explained to them that anything related to the coronavirus must be released by official health organisations or governments. “Apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognised institution,” a developer was quoted as saying.

It further said that Apple has been evaluating applications related to coronavirus to prevent misinformation. It is looking at both aspects – where the information is coming from and whether the developers represent organisations that have a certain level of trust, which is mostly health organisations and governments, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A search on Apple’s App Store does show relatively less applications related to the outbreak, indicating that the restriction appears to be working. It, however, could reduce the availability of software that will enable iPhone users’ track the COVID-19 spread.

Apple’s step comes as the latest in the tech giants’ efforts to prevent misinformation on the coronavirus outbreak, which has affected hundreds of thousands of people across the world. Google had also blocked search results for ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’ recently in the Play Store. Google has also enabled an SOS alert on Google search.

Apart from Apple and Google, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said on Tuesday, March 3 that he is focused on making sure everyone can access accurate and credible information on coronavirus. He had announced that search results for coronavirus will open a pop-up that directs to the World Health Organisation or local health authorities for the latest information. Facebook also gave WHO free ads in order to tackle misinformation.

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