TechCrunch reported that both Pocket Casts and Castro Podcasts have been removed from Apple’s China store. This means that users in China can no longer access podcasts through either of those podcast apps. According to TechCrunch, it is likely that China engaged in this act of censorship in an attempt to tighten access to information in the lead-up to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
On June 10, 2020, Pocket Casts tweeted:“Pocket Casts has been removed from the Chinese App store by Apple, at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China. We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship. As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request.”
Pocket Casts also tweeted: “We understand this means that it’s unlikely that our iOS App will be available in China, but feel it is a necessary step to take for any company that values the open distribution model that makes podcasting special.”
When asked by a Twitter users if Pocket Casts had been contacted by China before the takedown, Pocket Casts tweeted: “We were contacted by the CAC through Apple around 2 days before the app was removed from the store.”
According to TechCrunch, Pocket Casts for a clarification from Apple about what happened. Apple’s app review team directed Pocket Casts to contact the Cyberspace Administration of China directly.
TechCrunch received a statement from a spokesperson for Pocket Casts. “We will likely contact them to find out more, though we weren’t given that option to stop the app from being removed, only as a potential solution if reinstated. The very small amount of warning we were given between there being a problem, and our app being completely removed from the Chinese app store was quite alarming.”
On June 7, 2020, @IPNpodcast asked Castro Podcasts why it had been taken down from the Chinese app store. Castro Podcast responded: “We think it might have been our support of the protests in the Discover tab. We were not given specifics.”
Also on June 10, 2020, Castro Podcasts responded to a tweet in which a Twitter user retweeted one of Pocket Casts above tweets. The Twitter users asked if Castro Podcasts was affected as well.
Castro Podcasts tweeted: a response: “We received our notice one minute after Pocketcasts. Still working out what to do.”
Castro Podcasts continued with another tweet: “It sucks. China was about 10% of our user base, but a much smaller percent of our subscriber base. I don’t really like the idea of doing a bunch of extra work so some poor people can have a firewalled reality.”
Castro Podcasts continued: “Ultimately they can just block Castro’s servers in China even if we do nothing. So the question will be, do we want a lobotomized version of Castro in China or no Castro in China?”