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Coronavirus: Apple to accept apps from credible sources only; bans COVID-19-themed entertainment, game apps


Apple is stepping up efforts to combat misinformation and hoaxes around the coronavirus outbreak. The company on Saturday said it would accept only “reputable” and credible apps related to COVID-19. Apple has also banned entertainment or game apps with coronavirus as a theme on its App Store.

“…we’re evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19. Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed,” Apple said on its developer website.

Apple said it is encouraging developers to choose “Time-Sensitive Event” on the expedite request form to fast-track review on App Store.

Apart from new stringent policies around COVID-19 themed apps, Apple has also waived off membership fees for the NGOs and government agencies which plan to distribute free apps on the App Store.

Misinformation has become a big challenge for social networking platforms since the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, Facebook announced giving free and unlimited “ad credits” to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It also said it was working with more agencies and organizations around the world to tackle misinformation related to COVID-19.

Google is also taking similar measures to prevent conspiracy theories and cyberattacks themed on coronavirus. “We are also helping WHO and government organizations run PSA ads,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a post earlier this month.

Apple, in the meanwhile cancelled the physical event for its annual WWDC developer conference, scheduled to take place in June this year. The company has also announced closing all stores outside Greater China until March 27.

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