Podcast Addict suspended from Play Store due to overzealous application of COVID-19 policies [Update: Restored]

Google Play Store
Google Play Store (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Podcast Addict pulled from the Google Play Store as a result of new COVID-19 rules.
  • Google currently bans apps from "referencing COVID-19" unless they are endorsed by public health agencies.
  • Some podcasts which can be accessed on the app do reference the virus and associated disease, triggering the ban.

The Play Store's policies currently warn "any apps referencing COVID-19, or related terms, in any form in their metadata will only be approved for distribution in the Play Store if they are published, commissioned or authorized by [official government entities and public health organizations]."

While it has helped clean up the Play Store from genuinely misleading apps, one podcast app—Podcast Addict—has fallen victim to an obtuse (or particularly robotic) reading of it.

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While the spirit of the rule is the prevention of the spread of apps offering fake and dangerous health advice, a rather strict reading of it would lead to any apps with coronavirus content being removed from the Play Store.

This isn't a new thing for the app, Podcast Addict has been a victim of Google's content policies in the past, and other content apps like this are likely to fall victim in the future due to Googles mostly automatic Play Store content moderation.

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As of now, the app has been suspended from the Play Store with no recourse other than to wait for the results of an appeal. In the meantime, anyone still interested in grabbing the app may download the APK file and sideload it.

Update: Podcast Addict returns

Podcast Addict has returned to the Play Store, with a personal apology from Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer in tow.

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Google nukes all coronavirus Android apps in Play Store

Michael Allison
  • This a solid app. Favorite podcast player.
  • Stupidest thing I've read today.
  • What am absolutely ludicrous move by Google. It's a superb app that I use daily, thanks for highlighting this stupidity on Google's part!
  • This is just another example of how content moderation at scale is impossible to do well.
  • Free Podcast Addict, Google!
  • Shouldn't all podcast apps be banned? While we're at it the New York Times, Fox News, CNN as well.
  • I heard a podcast on Google's podcast app just last week that used covid-19 by name when I tried that poor excuse of an app. They should pull their own sh*try app!
  • I don't even care about podcasts, but by this same criteria, Google now needs to suspend their own podcast app and YouTube from the Play store. I'm sure that will be carried out immediately, Lol. 😉👍🏻