Update: At the moment, this ruling is still unofficial. A Brazilian prosecutor is pushing for the removal of these apps, but the judge has not officially ordered any action just yet. A source tells us that Secret has sent counsel to Brazil to investigate the situation, though we’ve been told this ruling would really be against Apple, Google, and Microsoft rather than the Secret app itself. Original story below:

A judge in Brazil has had it with the anonymous bullying carried out on social networking apps like Secret and has stepped in to put a stop to it, according to a report from  Estadao [translation]. Judge Paulo Cesar de Carvalho has ruled that Apple and Google must delete the application from their respective app stores, but the ruling doesn’t stop there.

According to the report, the judge has demanded that both companies remotely delete the application from every device that has installed it in the country. While that might sound like a hilarious case of a judge not understanding how technology works, you may be surprised to learn that it’s actually a capability that both companies possess.

Apple maintains a blacklist of apps on its own servers. iOS devices reach out to this server to check for any updates every once in a while and if it finds that an app installed on the device has been blacklisted, it refuses to launch that app. As far as anyone knows, Apple has never actually put this plan into effect. It’s not a fully foolproof system, either. Jailbreakers have been bypassing it as long as they’ve been hacking their devices.

Google, on the other hand, has used its remote kill-switch to delete a few potentially malicious apps in the past.

Whether the companies will actually comply with the judge’s demand has yet to be determined. If the application has not been deleted within ten days, they will be fined R$20,000 (a little under $8,900) each day.

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17 Responses to “Brazilian judge orders Apple, Google remove Secret from the app stores, remotely delete from users’ phones”

  1. You know how people say brazilians are always f*cking up any popular website, service or social network they can find online? I am brazilian, living in Brazil and couldn’t agree more. Secret got the same fate as Facebook when it hit the masses here; total meme/oversharing chaos to the point of being unbearable or becoming completely useless.


    • Overlord says:

      Don’t forget Orkut, Twitter or any social service.


    • Brazilians “hue hue” generally fuck up everything, always, but in this particular situation I have to disagree. Mostly because this is a presidential election year, and many accusation against Secret app, came from politcal party fearing harmful buzzing against their campaings. The ‘gibe monys’ are not the menace, it’s all about bad timing.


  2. I actually thought it was fairly well-known Apple has a kill switch.


  3. Yea, like Apple or Google will comply. It’s not their burden or the developers to bear. The users who are bullying should be held accountable. Devs can’t control how users will use their product.


  4. moofer1972 says:

    Sounds like someone’s bullying the judge and he doesn’t like it.


  5. cjt3007 says:

    I’ve heard rumors of the Apple kill-switch for years, but never seen them use it… even on apps that yanked from the store (like ones that allowed you to tether your iPhone on unlimited data back in the day). I highly doubt Apple would ever use it unless it was for a malicious app, and since their screening process is pretty good I don’t think there has ever been malware on the app store. I think they feel like once they approve an app there is no reason to pull it from devices later.


  6. Oflife says:

    He is right. Contemporary society world-wide has been made toxic by social media, and worse by apps like this. To be honest, as per cars and guns, anyone under the age of 18 should be banned from ANY form of social media. A long phone call or real world social interaction is considerably better for mind and soul. The IT community lost it’s dignity the second Facebook was introduced. And it’s spiralled out of control. How many young people (mainly girls) have committed suicide over social media pressure?


  7. asmi8803 says:

    This is silly, bullying happens everywhere. Facebook has bullying too. This should be a free choice, if you’re being bullied, delete the app.

    This judge is so out of touch. No need to ruin it for everyone else.


    • asmi8803 says:

      Why do these people think the solution is dealing with the problem at the end. Deal with it at the beginning. Don’t mask bullying by making it difficult to bully. Remove it by showing people how to handle it.

      I’ve been bullied and it’s not nice, but once you change your perception and your frame of mind it reduces or stops. People will still test you but your frame of mind and perception will change your reaction to it. It won’t upset you anymore, it may become an annoyance if it continues but usually it stops.

      You can learn to change your perception of bullying, then it no longer seems like bullying, instead it becomes annoying, or you think that person is weird.

      Bullies prey on people with weak frames of mind. You have the power to change your frame of mind and your perception of what is happening.

      Can you imagine Don Draper being bullied? His frame of mind is so strong there is no way he would see it as bullying, probably just some annoying pain in the arse.

      Stop being offended by squiggles on a screen. They have the meaning you give them. Don’t give them meaning from someone who is not significant in your life. Only give meaning to positive words or learn from criticism if you can.


    • The problem of bullying cant be solved with a simple delete! the app is called secret, so people are using annonimous to bully others that may even not know that the app exists…


      • asmi8803 says:

        I agree, so why force everyone to delete it.

        I’m not really sure what you’re saying Sergio…

        …People are using anonymity to bully people that don’t know the app exists. …So they don’t know they’re being bullied?

        Forcing everyone to delete the app solves nothing. If you want to get to the root of the problem you have to help people deal with bullying. You can’t stop bullying completely, but you can learn to deal with it in a way that it doesn’t affect you (this usually stops people bullying you). Trying to stop people bullying with walls and barriers doesn’t actually stop it. Help those that are bullied by supporting them, and showing them that they can change the way they perceive bullies and the words they say.


  8. I am Brazilian and I do not agree with the exclusion of the app, however when the judge assessed the application found that he violated a law of the country “that seals the anonymity, in USA, the country where the app was created, the laws allow you to manifest anonymously provided they do not violate the laws.
    In addition, the app does not have terms of use and privacy in Portuguese of Brazil, even after its official launch in the country in July, which violates the Code of the Brazilian Consumer Defense.
    I believe that the removal is due to these two facts, not just by bullying.
    my opinion :-)


  9. The problem is NOT de bullying itself! Brazil’s Constitution forbids the way Secret Works. Our constitution says that everyone has the right of free speech, but anonymity is forbidden. As much as I hate when the government interfere in such cases, this is actually valid, because the app goes against the country’s Constitution.