The release of the ‘Scar Booth’ app, which allows users to superimpose cuts, scars and bruises on photographs of their faces, whipped up a minor tabloid storm last week and showed how some developers seem to be exploiting the app store.
The 79p app, which is sold on the Apple iTunes App Store, has a catalogue of 77 different real-life wounds that people can choose from.
Understandably anti-bullying and violence prevention charities have been quick to condemn the app for glorifying violence, mocking violence and encouraging assault. The Mirror joined in the chorus – even though there are already three apps almost exactly the same as Scar Booth on iTunes.
For its part, the developers said that they did not intend to glorify violence but that it was designed to prank friends. Either way the images on the app store ad for Scar Booth show a photograph of a woman without any injuries followed by a picture of her with a battered face, bruises, a black eye and wounds to her neck and nose, hardly does much for the developers cause.
The app store has a history of controversial apps and they usually follow into four key themes: religious intolerance; religious bigotry; sexism; and violence. And all seem designed to deliberately offend.
Ass Hunter, which was available as an Android app last year, was a recent low. The Duck Hunter-style game encouraged users to play as a hunter shooting naked men. If you were unsuccessful in killing them, they had gay sex with you. Unsurprisingly a Twitter campaign successfully had the game removed.
The self-explanatory Baby Shaker app, where users shook their phone until two crosses appeared over a crying baby’s eyes, was also banned, as was Slash – an app with a simple image of a knife with the Psycho theme playing in the background.
Whether Scar Booth is also banned (it is currently only restricted to over-17s) might depend on the amount of moral outrage that social media whips up.
More fundamentally it reveals how some unscrupulous developers are attempting to gain publicity by creating inappropriate content that they hope will garner some attention. The app stores too are not beyond reproach by opening up their platform to them.
The industry should be doing more to call for developers to act responsibly and be a force for good – a start would be app stores refusing to allow such content on their platforms in the first place.