‘Angry Trayvon’ app to shut down, developer says

The developer of the game “Angry Trayvon” said the app has been removed from app stores after drawing complaints that the app was inappropriate and racist.

The game app featured a main character who wore a hooded sweatshirt and shared a name with Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012. The Trayvon character in the game held a baseball bat and attacked other characters.

A small petition on Change.org and a Twitter complaint campaign called attention to the app, which prompted outrage. Critics said that the app “exploits the death of Trayvon Martin.” They were especially offended that the developer, TradeDigital, was making money off the app, which cost $1.99.

Martin’s slaying sparked nationwide protests last year and has come to the media forefront again with the ongoing second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, who says he shot Martin in self-defense.

App store controversies pop up from time to time, illustrating how much of a task it can be for companies such as Google and Apple to screen apps before they appear in their stores. That’s particularly true in cases such as this, when an app doesn’t directly violate an app store’s terms of service. which often prohibit explicit content or hate speech but could clearly be considered offensive or controversial.

In some cases, the companies that run the app platforms will step in — Apple removed a “gay cure” app and an anti-Israel app from its store — but in some cases the platforms decide not to step in, such as with the “NRA: Practice Range” app that was released shortly after the fatal shootings last December at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The Trayvon app, according to a report from Fast Company, went on sale last Christmas.

Late Monday, a statement from TradeDigital appeared on the app’s Facebook page stating that the game would be taken down: “The people spoke out therefore this game was removed from the app stores. Sorry for the inconvenience as this was just an action game for entertainment. This was by no means a racist game. Nonetheless, it was removed as will this page and anything associated with the game will be removed.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the app was no longer available on the Google Play store. An earlier report from CNET indicated that the app had been available on Apple’s App Store, but it was later updated to note that the app had never been in Apple’s store. An Apple spokesman confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the app was never submitted to the company.

Related stories:

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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