Google is usually thought to have a hands-off approach to the Android Market. But we have seen a couple cases to the contrary, and there are rules that must be followed. They have typically only pulled apps that might endanger user privacy or information. However, that seems to have changed with Engadget's revelation that a Nazi theme app would turn up with a casual search using "Jewish." Between the time Engadget posted their article and I went on the Market to confirm, the app seems to have been pulled. I was able to find another pro-Nazi theme by the same developer (which seems to run off pumping out random theme apps) but only after a search for "nazi"(as seen above). 

I am typically a staunch supporter of Voltaire's views on free speech:

"Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."

That said, I am glad that the app was removed. With a mostly "open market," we get benefits and negatives. This is one of the times where a negative rears its ugly head. Engadget has much more very thoughtful analysis of the whole situation, and I would encourage you to check it out. [Engadget


Reader comments

Google pulls Pro-Nazi themes from Market


Look... I'm not pro-Nazi by any means, but freedom and free speech cut both ways. People need to deal with it. Just because you don't agree with someone else, doesn't mean they should be banned. Free speech should be free for everyone, not just those in the consensus.

I'm glad they pulled it as well!

With that said, the article reminded me of a great quote from the movie, The American President":

"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours"


Hitler was the biggest hypocrite in the history of human kind. He wanted men to be pale white, 6 foot tall, blonde and blue eyes, yet he had dark brown hair, brown eyes, 5 feet tall and some change.

This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. Google has every right to remove any app they want from their market app.

They also shouldn't have let it into the market in the first place. I guess reading this article made me change my mind about a completely free and open market. At least side loading is still available unlike cupertino fan-boys' toys.

Exactly. They could decide that Teddy Bear Rainbow Hug Theme is offensive. It's their business. And pulling racist themes from the market is good business.

I guess it's good business to bend to censorship to access a market that completely ignores basic human rights, too? I'm talking about China, if you couldn't figure that out.

Yes, Google has the "right" to remove it. They also have the "right" to remove Republican themes, or Jewish themes, or Themes that tout Rush Limbaugh, or abortion, or pro-life themes. Should they use that right? That's a far different question. It's fairly easy for most American's to agree that Hitler was / is abhorrent. A substantial number of American's feel abortion is abhorrent. Should Google censor anything to do with that topic?

I'm uncomfortable with Google, or more accurately some mid-level wage slave at Google, deciding what's offensive and what's not. There are dozens of parodies on YouTube featuring Hitler. Should Google eliminate all of those, too, because Hitler is offensive to many people?

agreed this has nothing to do with free speech. this isnt even just an american issue. stop for a moment and realize that google is an international buisness now. how do you think the folks who have vodaphone androids in germany and austia would feel about seeing that crap. i applaude google for thier decision.

And Hitler was half jew as well many people outside of Germany dont even know that and he wasnt even German he was from Austria. What a sick human being. Good it is pulled and now we should stop paying that more attention otherwise the person that made that app gets to much attention and fame.

I am sure I will get a bunch of flack for this but I feel it needs to be said.
You people are showing great quotes about free speech and then saying it only applies to views you don't disagree with. I am not a nazi in fact white supremacy and nazis make me want to puke.
But they have the right to put that crap on there phone the same way you or I have the right to put any thing we want on our phones. Should Google make this developer change it so a search for Jewish doesn't make this come up as a result... I think so but should it be band from the market no.
That is part of the price for free speech you sometimes see and hear things you don't like.

Blast away

As much as it makes my stomach turn saying this I have to agree with you. If you want a free market then it has to be free for everyone not just the ones you agree with. You should not be able to say that cant be in the market just because it is against your political, race or religious view points. If they can get away with pulling that from the market then they can pull anything they want and that does not boad well for a free market.

I absolutely agree with you, if we were talking about 1st amendment rights. But we're not.

It's GOOGLE Market, not free speech market or whatever. Google is in the business of making money. Sure they get a cut of this application's profits but that also means they are making money off of the distribution of a theme of a hate monger. This is bad publicity for Google. They may make money from this sale but how much money will they lose in people leaving on principal? This theme probably wouldn't generate enough money for Google to justify their public relations team putting together a statement regarding the condemnation of the application.

If we were talking free speech, I'd say screw Google. Like it or not, people are entitled to their heroes. But we're not. We're talking capitalism and this isn't work the hassle for them.

Free speech does not apply to private property, which the Android Market is. Just like I don't have to let Nazis in my home, Google doesn't have to let them in their market.

Yes, they're following the letter of the law, fair enough... but still that would make even more sense if these companies (meaning all of the cellphone guys: Apple and Google and the carriers) were not locking down devices to create artificial monopolies on the distribution of software for these devices.

However since they clearly want to own the entire app/content stream for this device, their policies should be tolerant of almost anything, even if it is distasteful, if they're committed to the principle of free speech, IMHO.

Google's generally been pretty good about this, but I agree with the OP that this particular move wasn't really necessary.

Hell, Google and Verizon just proposed that they get their very own internet to run this week.

actually you guys are completely incorrect in what Free Speech is all about. You have the right to say what you want and when you want and the Federal Government can not inhibit that except in very few situations.

Freedom of speech does not affect me from suing some dumb ass for slander, harassment, or threats. It also does not stop a company from removing any content they want from their equipment.

Good for Google I like this move.

NO I understand free speech and what it represents. And this skin is not slander, harassment or threatening. If you read what I put up I said I did not think Google should be removing this content.

Lets say you are christian and you make this beautiful skin that has angles and Jesus on it. Now I get offended because I am not of the Christian faith. Does that mean I should be able to request Google or that Google themselves should have the right to remove it? And if this is the case were is the openness that Google is suppose to embrace? As long as it is not illegal then for the sake of openness it should not be removed.

Now what I have been agreeing with is the openness of Google's policies. If you dont want to see this type of content then go back to the walled garden that is apple and you never have to see this type of content again. If Google starts removing this type of content then they are no better than Apple and there censorship.

I am going to say this one more time for the cheap seats. I do not condone Nazism or racism at all. All this type of garbage needs to go away I would have hoped that we as a people would have finally advanced enough to a point that this type of ignorance was wiped from the face of our planet. However you can not call an open source platform open if you are limiting what can be done with it, either by Google or by Motorola.

I agree. Free speech sometimes means someone will say something you don't like but it doesn't mean you have to agree with it. What if there was an app that made fun of nazis and called them doo doo head and said they put on tutus for fun, should that get pulled from the market? I mean that would make all the nazis mad and hurt their feelings

Nathan, I am not going to blast you. Like you said you have free speech and you have a right to your opinion. But the market place on our phones is owned by a company that has the right to remove anything they want. Developers know the rules when they make an app. They know that Google has the right for any reason to remove said app. So this is not about free speech. This about a business that has a right to conduct its business anyway it seems fit.

Nazi's are A-holes no doubt, but I hope Google takes down everything to do with any A-hole, be it Hitler, Mao, Hugo Chavez... all of them should be banned from having anything of their likeness...

Really? I think George W. was (and is) an A-hole. So I want Google to take down anything that refers to him in a positive manner. My opinion is every bit as valid and important as yours, so if they're going to delete Mao and Chavez content, they should delete W., too.

See where this idea that anything that offends you should be removed? If Google removes everything that offends someone, they'll be nothing left. Heck, half the apps in the market offend me because they're crap. Make Google delete all of those, too.

Funny how people beat their chest and make grand pronouncements about free-speech, First Amendment, etc., but when the rubber hits the road and they are really faced with ideas that they do not like, they reach for the censorship button.

Yes, I suppose Google does have the right to fire up the grill to 451 degrees. Just don't quote Voltaire and tell me you are on the right side.

Yes exactly,

Of coarse Google has the right to do with It's market whatever it sees fit. Just like apple has the right to ban whatever they want (by the way how many of us give our friends with iPhones crap about that every chance we get).

But don't come up with quote after quote about free speech as your sticking the match to burn a bunch of books.

Google is not bound by the First Amendment. If the issue was that Nazis were being told they couldn't spout their nonsense in public, this would be a different story. The First Amendment was written to protect unpopular speech absolutely, but a private entity, be it it your home, my home, or the Google Market, has property rights.
As I said in a post above, my home is not publicly owned, so I have the right to kick people I disagree with out of it into public where they can say whatever they want.
This isn't censorship. Nazis can sideload their poorly made apps into their phones and say or think whatever the hell they want.
They just can't expect that they will be accepted into a private place wherein their presence is unwanted and alienating to others.

So, let's also get rid of all the MAFIA themes and apps because we all know how the MAFIA is associated with racketeering, murder, extortion, money laundering, etc etc. While we are at it, let's also get rid of all the Dracula apps in the Market, because the "real" Dracula was also a mass murderer and has been credited with thousands of murders as well.

Even though I hate what Hitler stands for and do NOT agree with anything he did, we have to remember that we should have the choice to decide what apps to put on our phones, not Google. If someone is offended by running into a Nazi related app on the Market, all they need to do is NOT INSTALL IT and just continue on with their lives.

Yeah, okay... The point is that this decision was based on what is best for Google's business. Like it or not, most people could care less about the Mafia and Dracula, but they do find Hitler and Nazi images offensive.

"Like it or not, most people could care less about the Mafia and Dracula, but they do find Hitler and Nazi images offensive.

On the other side of the coin, I bet there are people out there who could care less about Hitler and Nazis but do find the Mafia and Dracula offensive. Who is gonna look after these people?

What would be unconstitutional is if the Supreme Court ruled that Google HAD to allow these themes in their market.

Let's also ban all Muslim references on the Market as well with all Koran Bibles, since we lost thousands on 9-11.

Islam didn't commit 9-11...
Communist Korea was what the war was over.

The Nazi party organized and actively committed genocide. Slobodan Milosevic and his party should be baned. The Party behind darfur. Not a nation. Your argument is fundamentally flawed.

Edit: I mistakenly read Koran as Korean. Also, your generalizing a people. I'm attacking a political party.

I said muslim. The religion is Islam. The person who believes in Islam is Muslim. Thus, the people who committed 9-11 are MUSLIMS. Your reading skills are fundamentally flawed.

Noted that before your comment. Look, its Google policy, apparently. Like it or not. We all love Android end of story.

Well, if there were a theme on Google praising how great Mohamed Atta is, upon investigating, Google would likely pull that too.
Besides, Google pulling themes referencing and showing the orchestrator of the holocaust in a positive light and pulling references to a specific religion are miles apart.

Thank you Engadget for bringing this to Google's attention. Now there's one less shitty app your douche bag friend can install on your phone while you aren't paying attention.

Even after all the hoopla about open source and all, this is Google's sandbox. And they can make rules for their sandbox. Let's all just be glad they don't use the iron fist as much as Apple.

Bottom line is that the app in question was in violation of the Content policy for developers. It had to be pulled, like it or not. You ever notice that `report` button on an apps page? It would seem that Google leaves it up to Android users to report forbidden material otherwise leaving the market open. Don`t like it? Get an iPhone and come back and let us know how it`s going.

Ever year Neo Nazis march and demonstrate in the downtown of the city where I live, that is their right, peacefully. Every year, anti racism groups show up to protest them, that is their right, peacefully.

The Android Market IS NOT AN OPEN FORUM.

And Muslims did not plane bomb the Twin Towers, terrorists did. ;)

Not all Germans were Nazis, not all Nazis were German.

Too bad not everyone can go to school in Canada. :/

It's very likely that the fact that having said theme on the Market in certain European countries puts Google in violation of the law. Faced with a choice to pull an app that got way more attention than it should have, or risk a big fight with the German gov't...which would you choose?

Occam's razor people.

I oppose censorship of any kind. Frankly, when I saw this I thought it was a joke theme. Google, you're an American company. Leave the nanny-state thought-police censorship to the Europeans please. Dont go all Steve Jobs on us. kthx.

I like to see Google being well and open, as they have been doing an excellent job at, but the market has been filled like crap like this which just ruins the Android experience. Something needs to be done about it, and I'm glad that Google, as a business, is taking the appropriate actions.

I really wouldn't be surprised to see this happening soon. Certainly the best option to keep it open while allowing us to not have to see such questionable apps.

Nothing's actually happened here. The Android Market is not a "free" society and limits can indeed be placed on what is sold there. This would be similar to McDonald's stating "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service" or an establishment stating "We Reserve the right to refuse service".

But, given that Android itself is an open OS and allows for non-market apps to be installed very easily (no jailbreaking or rooting required), Google has, in my opinion, sufficiently supported free expression.