Did Google Ban Those Mastodon Apps?
What happened to the Mastodon clients Google threatened to ban back in August?
Back in August, Google threatened to boot three Mastodon clients, Fedilab, Subway Tooter, and Husky, off the Google Play store for violating its User Generated Content (UGC) policy. The app developers where given 7 days to change their apps to comply with the UGC policy, but, as per usual, Google didn’t provide any real details as to exactly how the apps were violating the policy. The public consensus, however, was that the reason was the all three clients allow their users to log in to Gab, a predominantly right-wing social network.
So, here we are, about two weeks after Google threatened to swing the infamous ban-hammer. Did Google actually ban the apps? Or did the app developers cave, and implement whatever changes Google required?
None of the Above
After doing a little digging around, it appears that absolutely nothing has happened since August.
Fedilab, Subway Tooter, and Husky are still on Google Play, and the developers haven’t updated their apps since Google gave them the 7-day UGC policy warning on August 28. Subway Tooter was updated on the same day, but it doesn’t appear that the version released contains any changes related to the reported UGC policy violation.
How can it be that all of the apps are still on Google Play even if they didn’t receive any updates? Did Google chicken out? Did the app developers strike some sort of deal with Google? Or was the UGC policy violation simply submitted to the developers by mistake?
My guess is that the latter is the case. Due to the huge number of applications in the Google Play store, app verification is often done with automated scripts, and these scripts can fail. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
If you’re looking for a Mastodon client, don’t use any of the three mentioned above. Instead, use Tusky, a no-fuzz client that actively blocks Gab.