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Friday, April 24, 2009

Apple Apologizes for Baby Shaking App

Apple has issued an official apology for offering an iPhone app called Baby Shaker, a game sold for 99¢ in which players shook crying babies to quiet them. Intentionally snarky, the game grew sharp criticism from both children's groups and brain injury foundations - to the point that Apple pulled the game from their iTunes Store and issued the following statement:

This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.

Representatives would not say how many had downloaded the mean-spirited game from maker, Sikalosoft, which carried the disclaimer, "Never shake a baby."

No, really.

And it doesn't end there: spokespersons for various do-gooder agencies just had to say they were "disheartened" that, by selling the app, Apple was actually encouraging adults to shake babies - "not only to end their crying, but to end their lives." Because no reasoning adult could possibly know the difference between a game on a fucking cellphone and an actual, living infant. "There are many effective infant soothing strategies that adults can use to calm their fussy, crying babies. Shaking is not one of them."

Well, no shit.

As asinine as this whole debacle is, The Cyberculturalist wanted to keep perspective. In days past, we computer-users often enjoyed good, snarky fun. But as computers and the Web (and related peripherals) become more mainstream and far more widely-used, we have to remember that many end-users today are the very ones who prompted Compaq to issue an FAQ explaining where the "Any" Key is.

The sad truth is that, while the widespread use of the Web has brought us many great things (and promises many more to come), the days of carefree fun amongst nerds of our own kind is over. The newsgroups are dead (co-opted and owned by Google - like everything else), billion-dollar industries are attacking individuals, and people are actually being sued for flaming (oh, and "flaming" isn't even a term anymore). The illusion of anonymity is gone, flaming refers to homosexuals, and disclaimers reminding us that shaking babies is bad for their health are a legal necessity.

I'd post a sad-face emoticon, but I can't afford the royalties.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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