Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Pulls ‘I Sea’ From the App Store

Patrick Howell O’Neill, of the Daily Dot:

A popular app that claims to scan the Mediterranean Sea in real time for adrift refugees does not work as its developers claim it does and may be a ploy to win an advertising industry award, experts say.

The app, I Sea, was nominated at the Canne Lions awards show, an international advertising festival held this week in France, causing some to question whether it was made as a publicity stunt.

Despite its press coverage, I’m not sure I’d call I Sea “popular”, but this is pretty scummy. The Singapore branch of Grey Digital — the registered developer of the app — partnered with a legitimate Malta-based migrant aid charity, too, which seems like an opportunistic way for the agency to try to win some awards.

Some good detective work by @SwiftOnSecurity, Matthieu Rivière, Rosyna Keller, and a host of others — be sure to check the replies to Swift’s tweets.

Update: This doesn’t seem like an honest mistake. When this was in the press last week, Grey executives were pretty clear in how they described the app:

“The app uses an algorithm that divides the satellite images of the sea into thousands of smaller plots,” explains Low Jun Jek, executive creative director at Grey. “Each of these plots is then sent or assigned to different users so they can view the plot through the app. The user will receive a notification on their phone that will prompt them to check their plot — a simple task that will take no more than one minute at most.

This is clearly bullshit.