Google's Play Store reportedly labeled the keyboard app Fleksy as being appropriate only for ages 12 and up because of a middle finger emoji, while Google's own Gboard app is rated suitable for all ages, despite containing the same emoji.
The Fleksy keyboard app has been available in the European Play Store for about eight years and had a rating of PEGI 3 (the equivalent to "E for Everyone" in the US) up until earlier this month, TechCrunch reported Wednesday. At that point, Google reportedly made the team change the rating to PEGI 12, with the specification of "mild swearing."
Google told the company behind the app that Fleksy contains content that's not appropriate for all ages, and included a screenshot of the middle finger emoji, according to Olivier Plante, CEO of Fleksy developer ThingThing. Google also told ThingThing that it wants to push the rating higher, Plante confirmed to CNET.
"Our app update kept on being rejected which forced our team to raise the rating of our app to PEGI 12 -- we had to do this just to get our app update unblocked so we could push out a round of bug fixes to our users. This process lasted for days!" Plante wrote in an email to CNET. "Meanwhile, users who were suffering from those bugs could have well uninstalled Fleksy in favor of Gboard."
Though the Gboard keyboard app also contains a middle finger, it's rated PEGI 3 in Europe and E for Everyone in the US. Plante said Google didn't respond when he pointed out that the middle finger emoji is found on both Fleksy's and Gboard's keyboards and asked that the rating be dropped back to PEGI 3, leading him to accuse Google of anti-competitive behavior.
Google didn't respond to a request for comment.
Originally published: Oct. 23.
Updated, Oct. 24 at 8:16 a.m. PT: Added comments from Olivier Plante.