Apple have Pulled App Claiming to Help Refugees from the Store

With the migrant crisis going on right now and no country knowing what they're doing about letting people in, refugees are having to take getting out of their home countries into their own hands. They're taking to getting across the sea by themselves and because of this Grey For Good's I Sea app was supposed to help them by allowing people across the globe to search the Mediterranean Sea for them, to find refugee ships or dangers that they might want to avoid.

The moment I saw about this app I grimaced. I wanted it to be real and I wanted it to be helpful, but realistically, you know it's likely to be a scam. What can we actually do to help these refugees travel across the sea in real-time? Nothing, unless we're actually going to get out there and organise something. People want to be able to help, but this app looks like it might have been a scam and if it wasn't one, then it obviously wasn't finished. When you opened the map you were supposed to be able to see the current weather and different areas of a map so they could flag things up to help the refugees. Unfortunately whenever anyone uses the app, the same piece of map pops up for everyone and that map is an outdated one uploaded on Google Maps. The weather on the other hand is up to date, but it's the weather from a station in Libya. This means that anyone who installed the app couldn't actually do anything to help which made it kind of pointless.

The app got a lot of good press from Wired, Reuters and other media outlets, who offered only positive reviews about the app, but it seems likely that they lauded the idea more than the technology itself. The app was also apparently launched in conjunction with the charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which is something they claim isn't true. They were approached about the app, but they declined to work with Grey For Good at that time. After users started to prove it was a scam, MOAS asked for their name to be removed from the app as they didn't want to be associated with it.

I Sea has since been removed from the app store as it is non-functional and misleading. The app is still a great idea and whatever we can do to help the refugees we should. However, this sort of thing isn't likely to ever work that well so Grey For Good might have to go back to the drawing board.

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