Slide for Reddit is a reasonably popular third-party, cross-platform, open-source Reddit client. In my humble opinion, it's the best one out there (don't @ me), but fans of the app may have noticed that it disappeared from the Play Store in the last couple of days. It turns out, the developer ran into a small problem with the app's rating, which, thanks to Google's stereotypically terrible developer support, quickly exploded into a full-blown suspension of the developer's account. (Update: And now it's back on the Play Store.)
The issue started on Thursday when the app was removed from the Play Store due to an age rating problem: The app's metadata listed the target audience as "17+" rather than "18+." That's a small distinction, but an important (and fair) one according to Play Store policies, although even the first-party Reddit app is simply rated 17+.
Google doesn't apply its rules evenly.
Following a review, Google flagged the app for automatic removal from the Play Store. The developer subsequently re-submitted the corrected details to Google, and everything should have been happily resolved, with only a small interruption for the app's users until it was again made available via the Play Store.
...this app is a Reddit client that shows the same content every other Reddit client does, but for some reason, it was targeted for removal based on that content.
Unfortunately, Google took the opportunity to suspend the developer's account entirely, claiming he violated the Play Store's violent content policy. Keep in mind, this app is a Reddit client that shows the same content every other Reddit client does, but for some reason, it was targeted for removal based on that content. As with every other Reddit client, by default it doesn't even show NSFW content — so long as it's tagged as such on Reddit.
Unfortunately for Slide for Reddit's fans, the developer is currently stuck waiting in an appeals limbo regarding Google's decision, and those of us that use the app, or even paid for the premium version, are out of luck if we want to pull it down from the Play Store. Thankfully, less arbitrarily draconian methods of app distribution exist, and you can still download Slide for Reddit from APK Mirror and FDroid — an open-source Play Store alternative more of us should probably remember.
This isn't the first time that Google's terrible Play Store policies and poor developer support have misfired, impacting both customers and app-makers alike. Whatever the cause of these repeated issues, Google can and should do much better.
When asked if the developer would like to provide us with a specific statement, we were given the following:
Slide for Reddit has been a staple of the Reddit community for the last five years, and this week Slide was removed from the Google Play Store due to an apparent violation of Google’s content policy. I have appealed the decision and am following all available processes to resolve this situation and get Slide back on the Google Play Store. Huge thank you to the Slide community for the support and patience during this time.
With the developer currently focusing on the iOS version of the app (as well as real-life developments detailed in a post to the app's subreddit), the Android version of Slide for Reddit hasn't seen many updates in the last year, but it's still a widely used app, with over 100,000+ downloads on the Play Store. Hopefully, Google can fix its error regarding the app and reinstate both the developer's account and Slide for Reddit's Play Store listing soon.
It was pointed out to us that even the official first-party Reddit app doesn't meet the same age rating the initial review attempted to impose on Slide for Reddit — further proof big-name developers get a free pass from Google. Our coverage has been updated with that information.
Back on the Play Store
Slide for Reddit's developer was able to get the app reinstated with a new v6.3 release available now on the Play Store. He was also finally provided with an explanation for the ban: A single screenshot in the app's store listing, present for the last four years, which included the text "ISIS" in a link's title from a news-related post to r/news, which the developer claims triggered an automatic bot removal.
Clearly a ban-worthy offense.
Any manual review would have noted the context of the "ISIS" reference was non-violent, news-related, and clearly incidental, but that would have required human intervention and attention on the part of Google, something that Slide for Reddit's developer apparently couldn't get for weeks. In the meantime, Google's reliance on automation to handle its developer support continues to be a serious problem.