UPDATE: An Apple spokesperson, who spoke on background because she was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said that the company would be reinstating some games to the App Store on the condition that they stick to Apple's guideline that the Confederate flag not be displayed in an "offensive" or "mean-spirited" way.
Last week, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, shot and killed nine black people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Later, it was revealed that Roof had posted a hateful manifesto to a personal blog and photos depicting Roof holding the battle flag associated with the Confederacy in the Civil War, igniting a nationwide conversation about whether the flag should be abolished.
Apple has apparently taken a stance on the issue. Reports from app developers today suggested that Apple was systematically removing games from the App Store that contained the Confederate flag, even if the image was central to the game's plot. The PC version of one of the removed games, Ultimate General: Gettysburg, has been hailed as one of the greatest war games of all time.
According to Christine Monaghan, an Apple representative, Apple is indeed removing games from the App Store for containing the Confederate flag, but is stopping short of apps that aim to educate.
"We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines," Monaghan wrote in an email. "We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses."
Apple is not alone in its decision to stymie the spread of the Confederate flag. This week, both Walmart and Sears decided to stop selling the flag after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol—a demand raised by numerous authors and activists in the wake of the Charleston shooting.
It's worth noting that a flag bought at a Sears or a Walmart can be used for any purpose whatsoever, even educational. Apple has chosen to only remove apps that it deems to be of no educational value.In the national debate over whether the Confederate flag still deserves a spot in the public sphere, it seems like support for the flag is waning, at least among powerful corporations.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Dylann Roof's first name. This article has been corrected, and Motherboard regrets the error.