Media center app Mizuu falls victim to Google Play’s stringent ‘sexually explicit material’ policy

Mizuu header

Developer of the popular video media center app Mizuu had a rough morning after waking up to find his app abruptly removed from the Play Store. News of the removal was posted on Mizuu’s Google+ page after finding an email from Google explaining that the reason behind the take down had to do with the app’s violation of Google’s recently updated sexually explicit policies. But how is that even possible given the app is little more than a media center app, only filling in movie covers and info taken from a users’ own media library? One word: porn.

Apparently, Mizuu pulls images and descriptions from themoviedb.org, an online repository of movie information which just so happens to include — you guessed it — porn. That means someone with a vast wealth of adult movies would cause Mizuu to essentially download sexually explicit images, a possible violation of Google Play’s terms of service. Mizuu already knew this, which is why they included the option to disable adult content which is already blocked by default.

Mizuu screenshot

Mizuu made a point about their app being like a web browser which can be used to view sexually explicit material. Sounds to us like a Google algorithm basically scanned apps in the Play Store for anything describing “adult content” in their code, then removing the app and firing off one of their rejection emails. We’re not saying Google was in the right, but it doesn’t help that the developer can’t actually get in touch with an actual human to get additional feedback/clarity and find out exactly what they could do to save the app.

Without any sort of appeals process, Mizuu says they’ll simply attempt to re-upload another version with a different package name to the Play Store, but we expect it wont be long before Google once again comes in with the ban hammer. Of course, everyone who already purchase the app gets left high and dry (probably the real losers in this story).

If nothing else, this highlights an ever growing problem in Google’s developer relations. It’s silly that we can all suggest a route Mizuu can take without ever knowing if it will fly with Google. We wish Mizuu best of luck, and hope everything works out.

[Mizuu]

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  • Fred Marshall

    Seems like posts on sites like Phandroid is the only real way that developers can fight back and get an answer from Google…such a shame…

  • Whosit24

    I had an app pulled. Never really found out why; they never responded to me. Just made a guess at what in my description they may have taken offense to and resubmitted with a new package name. Everyone that bought it will get left out of future updates though. Google really needs a resolution path.

    • modplan

      Same for me. After emailing many times, and calling the CUSTOMER support that is only for buyers and having the poor guy tell me he could not transfer me or do anything for me, I eventually wrote a script to email them my questions every day. On the 100th day I gave up. Never heard a word and I had over 30,000 sales at $0.99. Back then (Oct 2011) all they told you was that you “Violated Google Play Policies”

      I eventually re-uploaded my app for free and apologized to all paying customers, offering a refund to anyone that asked. Never heard from Google.

      It is astonishing that some angry mother can pick up the phone and get in touch with Google when her son spends $50 on in-app-purchases, but us developers that make all the content they take a 30% cut from, can never, ever, get in touch with a single human being to simply ask “Why?”

      As much as I loathe Apple, I can contact a developer support person during normal business hours and even during restricted hours on the weekend.

      This needs to be more known, then maybe Google will fix it.

      I have NOT developed another Android app since, at the time (I was in college) I was looking to make a full-time career out of it.

  • Erstam

    There’s plenty of porn on Twitter and Tumblr. Why not remove these apps? This is silly.

    • techlte

      Same goes for Reddit or Imgur apps.. The difference must really have been as simple as mentioning adult content. Unreal.

  • UncleFan

    This isn’t a problem with “Google’s developer relations”, this is a problem with Google, period. Google thinks they can run their whole company with a few lines of javascript instead of hiring real human beings to do the job.

  • JBrowne1012

    Google needs to stop this crap why does it matter if people want sexually explicit content make a section dedicated to it where you have to verify age and consent

  • techlte

    Unreal, hopefully something can come of this that won’t sever customer of the removed application.

    1. Google hire human beings to represent you.
    2. Allow adult content, stop trying to police the internet.

    For one of the smartest companies in the world the combination of their legal and management representatives stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

  • SFJeep

    Google and the US in general need to get over their hangup with nudity. This isn’t the 1840s.

    • NinoBr0wn

      There’s a difference between nudity and porn.

      • SFJeep

        True. But try to get a nudity app approved as well.

        • uniquename72

          Like Netflix?

        • Paco .

          Like Plex?
          Like Chrome?
          Like Dolphin?
          Like Tumblr? :D

  • Gary Graf

    So this means Chrome should be pulled for nudity as well????

  • Milind

    This is the kind of thing that will eventually push me away from Google for good. It’s been happening with regularity lately. Every time they try to shove Google+ on me at every turn, I like Google a little less.

    I thought that the disastrous Nexus One launch would have taught Google that they needed humans at the other end. Obviously Hubris still reigns. Amazon is the only company that has consistently provided outstanding customer service.