According to MSNBC's Ali Velshi, Apple removed apps promoting a popular theory on the internet that an as yet unidentified insider named “Q” is leaving coded messages alluding to actions taken by President Donald Trump. At the same time, Apple and Google had profited from the sale of the app. Velshi said, "Apple and Google have vowed to fight fake news and conspiracy theories -- but they are also profiting from it." Velshi reported, "The tech giants sold an app in their stores called "Q Drops" ... [which is] linked to the conspiracy theory chain Q Anon, which is described as an offshoot of the Pizzagate fiction, which claims Hillary Clinton ran a child sex trafficking ring out a basement of a Washington D.C. pizza shop (that didn't even have a basement)."

“App” is a software application that can be installed on your phone. Users can only install an app from Apple’s app store.

"Many of the more than 1,700 posts,” Velshi said in his July 20 report, “which fans call 'bread crumbs' are vague, making it tough to nail down an exact storyline, but the main theme here is that Hillary Clinton and many of the world's other politicians and celebrities are members of a murderous child sex cult. And President Trump has secretly created a police force to arrest them and force them to wear ankle bracelets."

"There are people who actually believe this stuff," Velshi said. "It sounds wild, but it has thousands of followers who have spread the Qanon theory to the rest of the world -- using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites and message boards."

"So what does all of this have to do with Apple and Google?" he asked. "Well, the companies made money whenever someone bought the Q Drops app in the app stores." Apple normally makes a profit of between 15 to 30 percent of the price of an app hosted in their store.

The QDrops app was developed by a small family business in North Carolina and launched on iOS -- Apple’s computer operating system -- that keeps readers abreast of the Qanon updates or “crumbs” at website such as 4chan and 8chan that offer insights into news relating to President Donald Trump and controversies surrounding his presidency. When NBC News reported on the QDrops app, Apple pulled it from its store because it allegedly violating its App Store Guidelines.

Following inquiries from NBC, Apple pulled the QDrops app because, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Saffer, “The App Store has always supported all points of view being represented, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions and the quality of the experience is great.” Saffer added, “We have published clear guidelines that developers must follow in order for their apps to be distributed by the App Store, designed to foster innovation and provide a safe environment to all of our users. We will take swift action to remove any apps that violate our guidelines or the law — we take this responsibility very seriously.”

In its article, NBC reported that celebrities such as Sean Hannity and Roseanne Barr had made references to the Qanon theory. NBC labeled Qanon as a “conspiracy theory” that asserts that numerous celebrities and politicians participate in a murderous circle of pedophiles. The QDrops app was commercially successful for Apple. Even while the app was pulled from Apple, it is still available from the Google Play Store for $0.99. The developers of QDrops tweeted on July 16 that they were “working with Apple to alleviate any concerns they may have so that we can be put back on the store.” QDrops was one of the top entertainment apps at the Apple App Store.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, despite his criticism of Facebook and other platforms, has the focus of criticism himself for supposedly doing little to stem the circulation of what progressives are calling disinformation. He told Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Kara Swisher of Recode this year, “We carefully review each app, and we don’t subscribe to the view that we have to let everyone in that wants to, and if you don’t, you don’t believe in free speech. We don’t believe that.” Cook added, “We’re like the guy in the corner store. What you sell in that corner store says something about you.”

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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