Social Club, an Instagram Rip-off for Pot Removed from App Store

BY Mahit Huilgol

Published 9 Oct 2019

Apple has removed an app called Social Club from the App Store. The app was originally meant to be a platform with zero censorship and soon transformed into a place where people posed with drugs and openly posted racist content. Interestingly the app is still live on Google Play.

The Social Club was first launched in July 2019 and went on to amass an impressive 455,000 downloads across both iOS and Android. Meanwhile, the app aimed at offering cannabis related content and serve marijuana-related content. Larger social media platforms like Instagram ban such ads and Social Club slowly started becoming a hub for cannabis content.

The app is owned by Joshua Otten, co-founder of the cannabis lifestyle brand PRØHBTD and rapper, Berner. In August they had announced a plan for Social Club TV, an OTT cannabis network that airs shows like Marijuana Mania and HighTech.

Berner was defensive and believed that the app was under attack.

I feel like we were attacked. I don’t see how overnight the app completely changed, sad, scary and wack. Cleaning it up now. -Berner.

Our Take

The app started its life as an Instagram alternative for cannabis-related content. However, it slowly turned into an app where people freely posted anything. In other words, it was like Dark Web openly available for everyone. In all likelihood, the “zero content moderation” policy of the app seems to have backfired very badly.

Apart from pictures of Marijuana, one would also find pictures of modified weapons, drugs, porn and child pornography, which is illegal. It was also found that some users were selling drugs on the platform. It is alarming that Apple listed the app until now. Previously, the app had climbed the charts and become #12 top-ranked apps on the U.S App Store. Most of us hate moderation on social media platforms, however, Social Club is a perfect example of zero content moderation gone wrong.

[via TechCrunch]