With over a million apps available for iPhone and Android, there’s bound to be at least a few that are raising eyebrows and causing people to talk.
Some of these are intentionally controversial, like “Weed Farmer,” a game that lets you simulate growing marijuana.
But others have attracted controversy because of an unintended way a small group of people are using them. A clear example of this is the messaging app Telegram, which has recently come under fire for being the preferred chat app of ISIS.
There are still other apps whose users caused the situation to spiral out of control. You can see this with an app like Yik Yak, which functions as an anonymous bulletin board anyone can post on (within limits — no names, phone numbers, etc.). No doubt the creators understood there would would be some truly awful posts on Yik Yak, but they might not have anticipated the enormous problem they would have with racist posts on university campuses.
From dating apps that only let you in if you’re wealthy, to apps for viewing leaked information archives, these are the most controversial apps you can still download today.
Telegram is a secure messaging app which sends messages that are fully encrypted, can self-destruct (like Snapchat), and are almost impossible to spy on. This makes Telegram great for anyone who wants to hide their chats from the government -- including ISIS, which has instructed its followers to use the app.
Yik Yak is a popular anonymous bulletin board of sorts where people can post what's going on around them without worrying people discovering who they are. Of course, the anonymous nature of the app has led to some abusing the app and cyberbullying, including a run of recent racist postings around university campuses.
The League is a selective dating app that only allows certain users in. Most of its users are wealthy or attended Ivy League schools, and you only get access if the app's algorithm decides you're cool and successful enough.
Price: Free (iOS)
Ever since Apple decided to allow 'ad blockers' on iPhones, a debate has continued about whether they are ethical. These apps let people block ads on Apple's mobile web browser. Opponents say giving people this power is destructive to websites that rely on advertising revenue to stay in business, while supporters say the apps fix a fundamentally broken mobile web experience.
Price: Free, with $2.99 'Pro' version (iOS)
Ashley Madison encourages its married users to cheat, allowing people to search for married people nearby who are also looking for a fling. It burst into the national spotlight earlier this year when 32 million of its accounts were compromised by hackers, starting a lot of uncomfortable conversations between would-be cheaters and their spouses.
Apple removed the Wikileaks app from the App Store, but you can download aversion of the app on Google Play (though it hasn't been updated in years). The app lets you browse and dive into Wikileaks' treasure trove of leaked documents.
Price: Free (Android)
After School is an app designed to give high school students a place to discuss things anonymously without worrying about a teacher or parent finding out. It was pulled from the App Store after kids started using it for bullying, but After School has since returned with new safety features.
Price: Free (iOS)
Tinder blazed the trail for people to hook up based solely on looks alone. It used to only show you the photos and first name of other users, but now lets you add your job and education. However, the core experience is still swiping left and right until you find a match that also found you attractive.
This post is an update of a previous one by Steven Tweedie.
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