Satirical magazine: Titanic app in Google Play Store blocked after censorship request


The editors of Titanic can currently no longer deliver the digital edition of their satirical magazine via the app in the Google Play Store. The background is a dispute with the tech company, which, according to the Titanic editor-in-chief, took offense at several magazine covers.

In particular, the December 2020 issue was rejected by Google because of the depiction of a sacred motif (profanity), which was rated as “obscene”: The cover of the magazine shows the Pope with a bare back with a crucifix and an angry one (because he is jealous of God ) Seeing Jesus with his genitals bared. The cover alludes to a cover picture of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, on which the Turkish prime minister could be seen in a similar scene.

Titanic 12.2020

(Image: Titanic Magazine)

Two weeks ago, shortly before the appearance of the second edition in 2021, Google blocked the app of the satirical magazine with an automatically generated notice without warning, said the Titanic editorial team. This was followed by the demand to delete some older magazine covers with depictions of nudity and sexuality. It is curious that the Titanic app has been listed in the store since 2014 and actually had an age rating of 12 years due to the assignment as satire, explained Titanic editor-in-chief Moritz Hürtgen heise online.

The East German magazine Eulenspiegel, for example, continues to be listed in the store with similarly drastic cover pictures, which is even available without age restriction. According to Hürtgen, as a compromise solution, his magazine had submitted an application for re-approval as an adult app with the age rating “18+”. However, Google rejected the application on Monday.

Moritz Hürtgen also affirmed that the satirical magazine will not bow to pressure from Silicon Valley: “TITANIC will not censor itself in order to do justice to the pinched humor of monopoly wankers in San Fernando Valley, er: Silicon Valley.” One would rather accept the loss of digital subscriptions and leave the store permanently if Google does not fully reactivate the Titanic app and its motifs.

There had already been a misunderstanding with the Apple App Store in the past, but this could be resolved quickly (the lock was lifted, the Titanic app is still available in the App Store). The long-suffering Titanic was also temporarily blocked once on Twitter.

Titanic claims to have appealed against Google’s censorship request and is now considering withdrawing its own app permanently from the Play Store. In the meantime, subscribers will be “supplied by other means”, says the Titanic website.

The Titanic editorial team is currently offering subscribers direct delivery of print and PDF editions. Since, according to the editor-in-chief, the magazine “has no access to the contact details of the” Play Store “subscribers,” those affected by the app lock should report by email. Further information can be found in the entry in the Titanic news ticker. If you want to support the satirical magazine in the matter, you can still take out a classic print subscription.

The incident calls to mind censorship decisions, for example on Facebook, where in January the Board of Appeal had four of five blocked bans revoked after a review. A Goebbels quote posted in English without context (which did not serve as a satire), false promises of salvation for COVID-19 and the depiction of bare breasts in the course of a breast cancer campaign were then again considered permissible.

In the past, breastfeeding mothers had successfully protested against the deletion of their pictures on Facebook. In the course of the “breast puritanism”, the ZDF Facebook page was temporarily blocked due to a medical picture. In a recent report, Amnesty International criticized Facebook and Google for participating in the suppression of people and opinions.