After uploading its most recent editions to Google Play, Premier Christianity magazine was told, "Apps referencing COVID-19, or related terms, in any form will only be approved for distribution on Google Play if they are published, commissioned, or authorized by official government entities or public health organizations."
In a statement to InPublishing, editor Sam Hailes accused the tech giant of censoring journalism. "Magazines must be free to report on coronavirus," he said. "For Google to demand that a magazine must be 'authorised' by a government before being allowed on its platform, is completely inappropriate and wrong."
"In our recent editions, we've been celebrating the huge surge in the number of people attending church online, as well as praising Christian key workers and publishing thoughtful theological essays on grief and death. None of that content is in danger of misleading the public, despite what Google seems to think."
"While I welcome attempts to clamp down on fake news, this latest action from Google goes a long way beyond that. The tech giant appears to be preventing magazines like ours from covering the most important news story of our generation."
The magazine has published a print edition every month for over 50 years, and until recently was also available on Google Play around the world. Although Premier Christianity is still available on the international Apple App Store, the title is calling on Google to reverse their decision as soon as possible.