Googles Play Store is giving an age-rating finger to Fleksy, a Gboard rival 🖕

Platform power is a helluva a drug. Do a search on Googles Play store in Europe and youll find the companys own Gboard app has an age rating of PEGI 3 aka the pan-European game information labelling system which signifies content is suitable for all age groups.
PEGI 3 means it may still contain a little cartoon violence. Say, for example, an emoji fist or middle finger.
Now do a search on Play for the rival Fleksy keyboard app and youll find it has a PEGI 12 age rating. This label signifies the rated content can contain slightly more graphic fantasy violence and mild bad language.
The discrepancy in labelling suggests theres a material difference between Gboard and Fleksy in terms of the content you might encounter. Yet both are pretty similar keyboard apps with features like predictive emoji and baked in GIFs. Gboard also lets you create custom emoji. While Fleksy puts mini apps at your fingertips.
A more major difference is that Gboard is made by Play Store owner and platform controller, Google. Whereas Fleksy is an indie keyboard that since 2017 has been developed by ThingThing, a startup based out of Spain.
Fleksys keyboard didnt used to carry a 12+ age rating this is a new development. Not based on its content changing but based on Google enforcing its Play Store policies differently.
The Fleksy app, which has been on the Play Store for around eight years at this point and per Play Store install stats has had more than 5M downloads to date was PEGI 3 rating until earlier this month. But then Google stepped in and forced the team to up the rating to 12. Which means the Play Store description for Fleksy in Europe now rates it PEGI 12 and specifies it contains Mild Swearing.
Googles Play Store is giving an age-rating finger to Fleksy, a Gboard rival 🖕

The Play stores system for age ratings requires developers to fill in a content ratings form, responding to a series of questions about their apps content, in order to obtain a suggested rating.
Fleksys team have done so over the years and come up with the PEGI 3 rating without issue. But this month they found they were being issued the questionnaire multiple times and then that their latest app update was blocked without explanation meaning they had to reach out to Play Developer Support to ask what was going wrong.
After some email back and forth with support staff they were told that the app contained age inappropriate emoji content. Heres what Google wrote:
During review, we found that the content rating is not accurate for your appContent ratings are used to inform consumers, especially parents, of potentially objectionable content that exists within an app.
For example, we found that your appcontainscontent (e.g. emoji) that is not appropriate for all ages. Please refer to the attached screenshot.
In the attached screenshot Googles staff fingered the middle finger emoji as the reason for blocking the update:
Googles Play Store is giving an age-rating finger to Fleksy, a Gboard rival 🖕

We never thought a simple emoji is meant to be 12+, ThingThing CEO Olivier Plante tells us.
With their update rejected the team was forced to raise the rating of Fleksy to PEGI 12 just to get their update unblocked so they could push out a round of bug fixes for the app.
Thats not the end of the saga, though. Googles Play Store team is still not happy with the regional age rating for Fleksy and wants to push the rating even higher claiming, in a subsequent email, that your app contains mature content (e.g. emoji) and should have higher rating.
Now, to be crystal clear, Googles own Gboard app also contains the middle finger emoji. We are 100% sure of this because we double-checked
Googles Play Store is giving an age-rating finger to Fleksy, a Gboard rival 🖕
Emojis available on Googles Gboard keyboard, including the screw you middle finger. Photo credit: Romain Dillet/TechCrunch
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