Microsoft rejects WP7 Twitter app for "Graphic Content" [Update]

We've heard sad stories for all the other phone platforms before (Well, maybe not for Android), where developers have spent large amounts of time and money on an application, only to have it turned down at the marketplace approval process.

Today, we're hearing that Microsoft has turned down "Imagewind" for Windows Phone 7, even after it was approved. In fact, the application had been published for two weeks, and it was only when the developer sent in a third update for approval, that the software giant asked him to remove it from the marketplace. Imagewind is an application that shows "what is going on around the world via photos posted on Twitter" and does so in a live fashion. The developer calls the app "the perfect time killer."

According to Roger, the developer of the app, he had concern from the beginning it would not make it through the approval process, but submitted a test version in late February to see if it would be approved. To his surprise, it was, on March 3, so he invested not only time and money into the application and website development for the app, he re-submitted an update to the marketplace, which was approved on March 16. Roger says that 10 days ago, when he submitted another update to add further functionality, such as pinch to zoom and search ability, he didn't hear back for a long time.

After waiting patiently, he today received an "app unpublish request" from Microsoft;

Imagewind - app unpublish request
[..] While the images shown are dynamic, per your app’s disclaimer, a portion of the images’ content is too graphic for the app to be permissible in Marketplace. In order to be permissible, there would need to be a content filter before surfacing images since users are not querying a specific type of image and are rather pushed to them.

Given this, we ask that you unpublish your app within one business day until you are able to modify your application to comply with the certification guidelines.[..]

Thank you for your understanding in the matter, and we will hope to see an updated version soon.

Windows Phone Marketplace Policy team

Microsofts email means that because the app contains "unfiltered images from Twitter" he essentially must constantly manually filter images from Twitter, which is not realistic. Roger points out that the iPhone has the functionality to show a warning for similar applications, if it will bring in questionable content, it warns the user. Windows Phone 7 doesn't have this yet (and may never have it). The actual problem with the app is the user has to explicity request to see the questionable content, but this is not possible. 

Roger had even created his own dialogue, pictured below to work around the problem, but this apparently was not enough.

This kind of move from Microsoft is probably not great publicity for the company, and could push other developers away from the platform, considering that if you built a web browser, or normal Twitter client you may have to adhere to the same guidelines. Neowin has contacted Microsoft for comment, but are yet to hear back.

The XAP for the software is still available, over on SmartyPantsCoding, the developers website.

Update: We've heard from Microsoft New Zealand. Nigel Parker, a Microsoft employee's response right now was: 'Microsoft is currently working on a solution to the issue.' Strangely enough, Neowin contacted the developer directly, who hasn't heard from Microsoft more than once. Why is Microsoft ignoring the quality developers that make the platform shine? We're going to continue to chase this.

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"he essentially must constantly manually filter images from Twitter, which is not realistic."

I don't see how/why this is unrealistic. If the guy managed to publish an app to the marketplace, I'm sure he can figure out how to filter some twitter pics. The developer of the app obviously saw this coming, especially when he was "surprised" they even let him publish to the marketplace in the first place.

This blog post is close to worthless, just like 90% of the other WP7 blog posts. No purpose other than the fact it's anti-WP7 fodder for iPhone/android fanboys.

It's so funny how the Android attack force comes POURING in whenever there is any negative press against iOS/WP7, always the same people as well. You guys make me laugh, in a bad way.

Like the issues that came up with the (now official) twitter app on iPhone. When one of the trending words was #**** it was not approved. Yet after some complaints from the creator it was eventually posted.

Then and with now I say what difference is this app from say the built in web browser?

necrosis said,
Like the issues that came up with the (now official) twitter app on iPhone. When one of the trending words was #**** it was not approved. Yet after some complaints from the creator it was eventually posted.

Then and with now I say what difference is this app from say the built in web browser?


Theoretically the difference is that in a browser you go and actually request the content you want to see.

This app pushes the questionable content to the phone without the user requesting it.

Although, you can argue if the users got the application is because they knew what they were getting into.

"According to Roger, the developer of the app, he had concern from the beginning it would not make it through the approval process, but submitted a test version in late February to see if it would be approved."
He has concerns over it making it through the approval process so why is he complaining about them asking him to place a filter. My guess is that some of his customers have complained to MS about it and they asked him to rectify the problem. If I could ask him a question, I would ask him if there were any comments in the marketplace for his app that people were complaining about the need for a filter or such.

Joyette S said,
"According to Roger, the developer of the app, he had concern from the beginning it would not make it through the approval process, but submitted a test version in late February to see if it would be approved."
He has concerns over it making it through the approval process so why is he complaining about them asking him to place a filter. My guess is that some of his customers have complained to MS about it and they asked him to rectify the problem. If I could ask him a question, I would ask him if there were any comments in the marketplace for his app that people were complaining about the need for a filter or such.
Because with how insanely anal these approval processes are, that's why. How they offer you little recourse when they demand you take it down or your app is not approved.

ANYONE who submits an application to the store probably has some worries about this happening. Especially if their application pulls stuff from the web that is completely out of the developers control.

Which is complete BS.

Joyette S said,
"According to Roger, the developer of the app, he had concern from the beginning it would not make it through the approval process, but submitted a test version in late February to see if it would be approved."
He has concerns over it making it through the approval process so why is he complaining about them asking him to place a filter. My guess is that some of his customers have complained to MS about it and they asked him to rectify the problem. If I could ask him a question, I would ask him if there were any comments in the marketplace for his app that people were complaining about the need for a filter or such.

Doesn't matter if people asked for it or not. You can't filter out visual content, at least not with the capabilities of a cell phone. As such, there is no way that he could implement a filter even if he wanted to. Apple has that issue solved with informing the user that the app might contain content inappropriate for underage users and asks the user to confirm at install. Don't see why Microsoft couldn't do the same.

downhillrider said,
they let those Im Rich apps stay but try and delete this?

I'm Rich apps don't show you pictures of naked people. I showed this ImageWind app to a friend last night and nearly every picture was graphic pornography. It was bad.

I don't mind Microsoft (or Apple) filtering out app submissions of spam, malware, and illegitimate resubmissions of paid apps as free apps, but I really don't think it is their place to explicitly deny apps because they can potential pull data from a source without manual filtering. Let's face it, somebody could post a picture on Facebook or in their Google contacts, and until Facebook's censors get to it, Microsoft's own OS could pull that content into the Pictures or People Hub. If it were a Google contact picture, I don't know if any censorship is/can be done at all. A 17+/adult section of the Marketplace for those types of apps would be alright with me too. I just don't think it's fair to well-intentioned devs, like Roger, who are just making a Twitter app and being rejected post-facto when two of the app's prior submissions were approved. As this article says, if Microsoft expects devs to devote time and money to their projects, they can't turn around and stab them in the back like this or they'll defect. Microsoft may be starting to act like Apple when it comes to these Marketplace policies, but they need to quickly realize that their platform and ecosystem does not have the devotion or installed user base to be dictating this kind of censorship or limitation.

You all are so immature with this. MS (and even Apple) have all right to block whatever they want on their platform. If I made such a marketplace, I wouldn't want an app that shows just any random **** that people post. In today's sick day and age, you never know what people post, so to keep it clean they simply ask for a filter. Doesn't mean it can't be bypassed.. but at least it still complies with their rules. You need to remember the internet is different than your phone.. the internet is everything, but with phones someone owns the marketplace/app stores and if they didnt approve or monitor apps, you'd only get more ridiculous apps than there already are. It's part of business so deal with it. The same goes for many social networks, web hosts, etc. They all monitor this kind of stuff and try to keep their systems clean. If you don't like it, then go elsewhere.

j2006 said,
You all are so immature with this. MS (and even Apple) have all right to block whatever they want on their platform. If I made such a marketplace, I wouldn't want an app that shows just any random **** that people post. In today's sick day and age, you never know what people post, so to keep it clean they simply ask for a filter. Doesn't mean it can't be bypassed.. but at least it still complies with their rules. You need to remember the internet is different than your phone.. the internet is everything, but with phones someone owns the marketplace/app stores and if they didnt approve or monitor apps, you'd only get more ridiculous apps than there already are. It's part of business so deal with it. The same goes for many social networks, web hosts, etc. They all monitor this kind of stuff and try to keep their systems clean. If you don't like it, then go elsewhere.

What gives you the right to call us immature. Sorry I don't believe in censorship. I'm not a 5 year old kid using handmuff's. I know what the bloody hell sex ist, what a cuss word is. I'm not some little wussy person who can't deal with a naked chick on the computer or some cuss word. I mean, if you gotta live in a dumb world like that, you might as well go be a nun or a virgin for the rest of your life. This is not directed at /you/ except the first two sentences. But just saying. I'm not in elementary school where I need to be told what I can see, learn, touch, etc.

ZekeComa said,

What gives you the right to call us immature. Sorry I don't believe in censorship. I'm not a 5 year old kid using handmuff's. I know what the bloody hell sex ist, what a cuss word is. I'm not some little wussy person who can't deal with a naked chick on the computer or some cuss word. I mean, if you gotta live in a dumb world like that, you might as well go be a nun or a virgin for the rest of your life. This is not directed at /you/ except the first two sentences. But just saying. I'm not in elementary school where I need to be told what I can see, learn, touch, etc.

Apple/Microsoft get a cut of your app sales. If you sell a porn app, they sell a porn app. I don't think Apple/Microsoft wants to get into the business of selling porn.

ZekeComa said,

What gives you the right to call us immature. Sorry I don't believe in censorship. I'm not a 5 year old kid using handmuff's. I know what the bloody hell sex ist, what a cuss word is. I'm not some little wussy person who can't deal with a naked chick on the computer or some cuss word. I mean, if you gotta live in a dumb world like that, you might as well go be a nun or a virgin for the rest of your life. This is not directed at /you/ except the first two sentences. But just saying. I'm not in elementary school where I need to be told what I can see, learn, touch, etc.

Unfortunately, you aren't the only one who uses this platform, so you may not have a problem with seeing mature content, but that doesn't mean other people want their children to see it. Sure you can go to the browser and look at whatever you want but that is beside the point. The point is, these app stores are owned and managed by companies that prefer not to diminish their integrity. Like Steve Jobs said, if you want porn on your phone, get an Android phone lol.

wixostrix said,

Unfortunately, you aren't the only one who uses this platform, so you may not have a problem with seeing mature content, but that doesn't mean other people want their children to see it. Sure you can go to the browser and look at whatever you want but that is beside the point. The point is, these app stores are owned and managed by companies that prefer not to diminish their integrity. Like Steve Jobs said, if you want porn on your phone, get an Android phone lol.

A child shouldn't even be using a cell phone. You should be watching what they do regardless. Hell even 8 year olds nowadays are learning sex education in school at an early age.

ZekeComa said,

A child shouldn't even be using a cell phone. You should be watching what they do regardless. Hell even 8 year olds nowadays are learning sex education in school at an early age.

Yes, but kids are going to have cell phones, and it's just once less outlet to that it can be easily exposed to someone unsuspecting. And since the marketplace is easily seen as part of the experience of the phone you wouldn't want to promote or have your name apart of racy content. Protecting the integrity of the brand.

kingofmyworld324 said,

Apple/Microsoft get a cut of your app sales. If you sell a porn app, they sell a porn app. I don't think Apple/Microsoft wants to get into the business of selling porn.


This is not a porn app. It's Twitter ffs. Stop drifting from the subject, please.

Northgrove said,

This is not a porn app. It's Twitter ffs. Stop drifting from the subject, please.

Exactly...the developer simply wrote an app to filter twitter images out. If Microsoft and Apple are going to be this draconian then they can shove smart phones with their OS's where the sun dont shine. People are far far far far too sensitive these days, wow. This purely is about MS (and Apple on the iphone) controlling what you can do, no thanks.

I am a rarity in that once my contract is done in August I am getting rid of my cell phone. I hate being accessible 24 hours a day and I really do not like the current state of the smart phone market.

Northgrove said,

This is not a porn app. It's Twitter ffs. Stop drifting from the subject, please.

It's Twitter images, randomized and pushed to the user. That means people who didn't ask to see porn are eligible to be shown porn [or other graphic imagery]. This is the entire subject

kingofmyworld324 said,

Apple/Microsoft get a cut of your app sales. If you sell a porn app, they sell a porn app. I don't think Apple/Microsoft wants to get into the business of selling porn.


It's a free app. 30% of free is $0 - so Microsoft isn't selling it.

To be fair, I installed the app on my phone and it didn't take long for questionable content to appear. A random picture of a penis is not welcome.

Raa said,
Another reason to switch/stick to Android.

While I don't like MS pulling this app - Android is not much better. They just pulled a Playstation emulator, presumably because it conflicts with Xperia Play.

Raa said,
Another reason to switch/stick to Android.

Sure I like choice but I would sooner see decent choices than the **** that appears on Android Market.

Raa said,
Another reason to switch/stick to Android.

There was a reason before this?

(hey, if we're trolling, I want in too.)

Hardcore Til I Die said,

So don't pirate apps or install random crap from the market without reading permissions and reviews first..not rocket science!

Are you sure about that ?
http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...g-into-mobile-app-snooping/

In Pandora's case, both the Android and iPhone versions of its app transmitted information about a user's age, gender, and location, as well as unique identifiers for the phone, to various advertising networks. Pandora gathers the age and gender information when a user registers for the service.

Raa said,
Another reason to switch/stick to Android.

Maybe, but when you have to scroll through 50 porn apps just to find a real application, it makes the WP7 process seem a bit more lucid. There are such things as too 'open'...

Microsoft is still refining the ratings and standards on Apps, so this is another tiny hiccup that is making news, but at least WP7 is getting lots of free attention.

"Roger points out that the iPhone has the functionality to show a warning for similar applications, if it will bring in questionable content, it warns the user. Windows Phone 7 doesn't have this yet (and may never have it). "

WP7 it's going down

The actual problem with the app is the user has to explicity request to see the questionable content, but this is not possible.

Don't see why not

UndergroundWire said,
Ha ha. Just like the iPhone. Tyrants approving the Market.

I'm unsure of your analogy, since this kind of app would be approved on the iPhone with a 17+ rating.

Northgrove said,

I'm unsure of your analogy, since this kind of app would be approved on the iPhone with a 17+ rating.

The entire approval process is a Joke. That's what I mean. I can't imagine developers with somewhat questionable material developing for either of these platforms. Especially the Windows Fail 7 Platform. It's a waste of the developer's time and money into an app that may or may not be approved.

UndergroundWire said,

The entire approval process is a Joke. That's what I mean. I can't imagine developers with somewhat questionable material developing for either of these platforms. Especially the Windows Fail 7 Platform. It's a waste of the developer's time and money into an app that may or may not be approved.

Yep, they should develop for Android, of course they won't make any money but who cares, right?

bob_c_b said,

Yep, they should develop for Android, of course they won't make any money but who cares, right?

Oh give it a rest. Lots of Android developers make money from their apps. When you spew uneducated B.S. like this, you're not doing yourself any favors. You end up sounding like an idiot.

bob_c_b said,

Yep, they should develop for Android, of course they won't make any money but who cares, right?

You are a moron. There is a reason why apps like Angry Birds is free on Android and not on the iCrap. Developers can make more money of Google's advertising than selling it for $1. You FAIL!

UndergroundWire said,

You are a moron. There is a reason why apps like Angry Birds is free on Android and not on the iCrap. Developers can make more money of Google's advertising than selling it for $1. You FAIL!

By the same token developers can make just as much if not more on microsoft adcenter for wp7. MS pays cpm