What Happens When Information is Regulated?

In November of 2010, Apple pulled an app from its store for the Manhattan Declaration.  If you were like me and don’t know what this is, here’s an explanation from a Chuck Colson article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Apple pulls Christian app – who’s next?”:

a statement of conscience signed by half a million Christians in support of the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and religious freedom.
According to Colson, the app was pulled after Apple received complaints from same-sex marriage advocates that claimed the Declaration stirred up hate and homophobia.  He says that he is
“…saddened – and very concerned – that a pioneering company like Apple, whose products are used by untold millions to interact and communicate, chose to shut down the dialogue over one of the defining cultural issues of our time.”
The Manhattan Declaration is interesting in and of itself, but Apple pulling the app and what that says about the control of information in our culture is incredibly fascinating.  Colson moves on to say
“There is something more at stake here than whether Apple hosts a particular app; whether or not we are capable as a society of maintaining the free marketplace of ideas. Because the open and civil exchange of ideas is essential to democracy and a free society. The kind of society that has produced entrepreneurial geniuses like Jobs.”

When companies like Apple control the flow of information and ideas across their platforms we can step into dangerous cultural waters.  Apple has every right to pull the app from their store.  It is, after all, their store, and the author of the article admits the same.  They’re running a business that is built on customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.  This is also the problem at the same time.  Since they answer to customers, the ideas that are presented will be ones that on the whole the customer agrees with.  If they decide they don’t like something, then it can be removed.

Ideas and the unhindered flow of them is essential to being a Christian and becoming a Christian: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV (bold words mine).”  God wants us to strengthen our minds.  He wants us to use knowledge to bring others to him, and to decide for ourselves what is good and what is wrong.  We should be protective of the ability to do that.

The question of whether we can maintain the free marketplace of ideas remains to be answered.  There is much left to change in the new digital world.  My hope is that stories like this do not become commonplace.

 

Sources:

“Apple Pulls Christian App – Who’s Next?,” Chuck Colson, San Francisco Chronicle

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