Apple rejected sticker apps that promoted mask-wearing, but it’s reinstating them now

Apple is hiding a smile behind its new mask emoji

Two Apple developers have been given the green light to promote mask-wearing with their stickerpack apps for iOS, after previously receiving rejections from Apple that suggested they were making “inappropriate references to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Here’s how this story began:

Had similar rejection. Our stickers said ”wear a mask”, “wash your hands”. Got approved when we removed the text but kep the sticker. pic.twitter.com/cFZABwwY8A

— Mark Johnson (@markjnet) November 8, 2020

How could a friendly sticker wearing a mask be an inappropriate reference to COVID-19, particularly when Apple has its very own mask-wearing emoji? That was the question on my mind, so I reached out to Apple yesterday.

This morning, Apple replied that not only does the company not have any rules about mask-wearing stickers, but that both of these examples are totally OK — and both developers have since confirmed that Apple has approved their apps.

Apple called to clarify. Said there is no problem, content is approved. Said depiction of masks and hand washing in our app Emoji Me Animated Faces is fine. The policy is intended for apps that are marketed as COVID apps.

— Mark Johnson (@markjnet) November 10, 2020

Got a call from the App Store and I’m clear to add the masks back into the next update! https://t.co/s4Ex9pwN5L

— Jen Lewis (@thisjenlewis) November 10, 2020

It’s not quite clear why they were rejected to begin with, but Apple says it’s been careful only to let medical institutions and official health agencies mention “COVID-19” in their app names or metadata (which opportunists might try to get their apps to appear higher in search). Both Apple and Google have policies designed to make sure COVID-19 searches point to apps that might actually help you protect yourself.

These particular apps are the *Chef’s Kiss* and Emoji Me Animated Faces Kids apps, in case you’re curious.

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