Apple has yanked Unjected, an app that bills itself as “a safe space for the unvaccinated to come together uncensored through business, friendship, or love,” from the App Store. The company said that Unjected violated its covid-19 policies and tried to get around the App Store review process, which in itself is against Apple guidelines.
Apple took action against Unjected after being contacted by Bloomberg. The outlet published a report on Unjected on Saturday that analyzed how Apple and Google were dealing with the covid-19 vaccine misinformation presented on the app. In an email, Apple confirmed the takedown to Gizmodo on Saturday.
Google warned Unjected’s founders about the misinformation on the app’s recently debuted social feed—which included user-generated false claims that stated vaccines were “experimental mRNA gene modifiers” and “nano-technology microchips”—in mid-July and threatened to remove it if the content wasn’t deleted. The founders complied and removed the social feed, although one told Bloomberg that they planned to reinstate it and the false claims, hoping to “stay under the radar.” The app is still available on the Play Store.
In response to actions by Apple and Google, Unjected sent Gizmodo the following response via email.
“The only statement we have is that we are a respectful group of people supporting their medical autonomy and freedom of choice, and that we believe their unjust censorship policy’s on google and apple [sic] violates our constitutional rights,” Unjected said.
Gizmodo reached out to Google for comment on the report, but we did not receive a response from by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this blog if we do.
Similar to apps like Tinder, Unjected allows people to create a profile, match, and chat with others to find friendship and romance. As explained by Bloomberg, the “Tinder for anti-vaxxers” launched in May after mainstream dating apps teamed up with the White House to encourage users to get vaccinated. Users who claimed they were vaccinated received visibility boosts to their profiles and a special vaccination badge.
Unjected covers more than just love, though. It even allows people to find businesses and services that agree with its users’ views against covid-19 vaccines.
“So that if a business is looking for an unvaccinated employee they can post that listing there or if someone is looking for an unvaccinated doctor they can find them on the app,” Shelby Thomson, one of the app’s co-founders, told Yahoo in June.
Unjected also takes aim at people who have been vaccinated against covid-19. In its Google Play Store description, the app falsely claims that some people have experienced “adverse events after being exposed to the Vaccinated.”
Apple explained to Gizmodo that the App Store prioritizes safety and security across all areas, including covid-19. The company revealed that the Unjected app was originally rejected from the App Store during the review process for violating Apple’s rules on covid-19—which require all apps related to the virus to provide credible health and safety information from reputable sources, such as government agencies and medical institutions—but was subsequently approved after the developers made changes. Nonetheless, Apple said that since then, the developers’ external statements to its users and updates to the app have led to violations once more.
Apple also pointed out that one of Unjected’s founders asked users to avoid using words like “vaccine,” “jabbed,” or “microchip” in order to fly under the radar of the company’s reviewers. Apple said that this is a violation of its guidelines, which warns developers that if they try to cheat the system, their app will be yanked from the App Store.
At a time when 76.05% of the country is experiencing high or substantial levels of community transmission in light of falling vaccination rates and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, we need to promote the scientific facts and benefits of the vaccines as much as we can. Apps that encourage people to believe falsehoods about covid-19 vaccines, which prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death, have no place in our battle against the virus.