Podcast app

Google suspended popular Android podcast app because it catalogs COVID-19 content


Podcast Addict, an Android podcast app with millions of users, was briefly suspended over the weekend because it lists COVID-19 content. The creator of the application, Xavier Guillemane, tells The edge Google suspended and removed ads from its nine-year-old app on Saturday because it violated a new developer policy that requires any app that references COVID-19 to be “published, commissioned, or authorized by official government entities or public health organizations.

After The edge contacted, Google SVP platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer clarified that Podcast Addict should not have been removed, and the team is working to restore the app, a company spokesperson said The edge.

“To ensure that Google Play users get reliable and accurate health information, we continue to take an intentionally cautious approach to apps with COVID-19 content, as discussed in our developer blog post,” the spokesperson said in an emailed comment. . “In this case, we have reinstated the app and contacted the developer to ensure the app remains in compliance with our policies.”

Guillemane’s app lists publicly available podcast RSS feeds, which he does not control. The content includes news shows, talk shows and a variety of programs that mention the pandemic and the virus. He says Google told him he had to fix this problem and then republish his app under a different name to be reinstated. Guillemane says other podcast apps, including Google’s, also list these shows, although he’s not sure which specific violation shows his reported algorithm.

Its app is free and relies on Google ads to make money. So when she is demonetized, Guillemane also loses her income.

“That’s how I make a living, and already because of the current situation, our income has been really bad for a few months,” he says. Google initially said it could take it seven days to hear about its suspension appeal, which means a waste of money the whole time. “It’s not easy to be at the mercy of an algorithm banning the app.”

Listeners who already have the app on their phone can still access it, but they couldn’t redownload it. New users also couldn’t find it in Google Play. If Guillemane adjusted the app and somehow removed all COVID content, he would have to change the name of the app and lose all of his notes and downloads. He says The edge it was nearing 10 million downloads when Google suspended the app.

Previously, Google had demonetized its app for linking to explicit content, which Guillemane neither hosted nor created. The situation was similar in that the content is only cataloged by Podcast Addict, but Google punished the app and its creator for listing shows.

Of course, with the pandemic underway, people have been rushing to create podcasts on the virus. It is timely and important. At the same time, some people have grabbed attention for spreading misinformation, which Google is trying to reverse with its new policy. Podcast app developers, however, only make the content appear, much like a search engine does, so they can’t necessarily filter out the wrong information or filter out each RSS feed and episode individually. that fills up. The policy may be well intentioned, but it is difficult to control.

Update 05/18, 10:29 p.m. ET: Updated to include Google’s statement and its decision to reinstate the app.


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