Android SVP apologizes after Google Play erroneously removed Podcast Addict for showing COVID-19 content
In a bid to curb the spread of misinformation during these trying times, several tech giants banded together earlier this year to provide users with actual, verified facts about the COVID-19 situation and take down any misleading information from their respective platforms. Google, being Google, automated this process and the results have been quite undesirable for some app developers. According to a recent tweet from the developer of popular podcast app Podcast Addict, Google has erroneously suspended the app from the Play Store for hosting podcasts that talk about COVID-19.
Google has just suspended Podcast Addict again. This time for having Podcasts about Covid 19… Are you for real Google. Can you please check your own Google Podcast App, your search engine,Youtube, … first
— Podcast Addict (@PodcastAddict) May 16, 2020
In a notification regarding the suspension, Google cites Section 8.3 of its Developer Distribution Agreement which was recently updated to make it more difficult for malicious apps to take advantage of the increasing number of searches about the ongoing pandemic. The updated policy requires developers to prove that their app is either endorsed by a government to publish content related to COVID-19 or take down all references to the pandemic from the app. While updating the policy to limit the spread of fake news is great on Google’s part, removing an app for hosting third-party content related to COVID-19 is a bit of an oversight. Because if this is intended behavior, then Google should also remove its own apps, like YouTube and Google News, for hosting third-party COVID-19 content.
Since we’ve now established that this isn’t intended behavior, it’s safe to assume that Google’s automated review process just spotted mentions of coronavirus in the Podcast Addict app and delivered a false positive, leading to its suspension. And much like the recent Pushbullet and Join Chrome extension fiasco, Google’s communication with the developer regarding the issue was less than ideal.
Then this happened via DM… (Sorry for the vertical screenshots) pic.twitter.com/r3CHv4tMoN
— Podcast Addict (@PodcastAddict) May 18, 2020
When the developer took to Twitter to highlight the issue, Android’s AVP Hiroshi Lockheimer apologized to the developer for the false flag and said that the app shouldn’t have been pulled from the Play Store.
Apologies to Podcast Addict fans today. We are still sorting out kinks in our process as we combat Covid misinformation, but this app should not have been removed. Carry on with your podcasts, folks! 🙇♂️
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) May 19, 2020
The Podcast Addict developer then confirmed that his appeal had been accepted and Google required them to “fix the issue” and submit the app for review once again.
Good news, Google accepted my appeal.!
Now if I understand correctly I need to fix the issue and submit the app again
So basically I added an extra space at the end of the app listing and pressed on ReSubmit. We’ll see what happens now pic.twitter.com/FKomXQ2jI6
— Podcast Addict (@PodcastAddict) May 19, 2020
In their latest tweet, the developer revealed that the app has been resubmitted for review without any changes and it seems to be up on the Play Store once again. In case you wish to download the app, you can do so by following the Play Store link below.