It's been nearly 200 years since anti-Irish sentiments (especially "Irish Need Not Apply" signs) became a part of American history. Now, U2, which hails from Dublin, Ireland, has become the poster child for another unwelcome invasion. Starting September 9th, Apple boasted that it would give U2's new album, Songs of Innocence, to over 500 million iTunes customers. What they didn't boast was that the iTunes customers would be getting the album whether they wanted it or not. Any users who allowed purchased material to download automatically to their devices received the album.
The promotion was performed in tandem with the release of Apple's iPhone 6, and, immediately after discovering the compulsory download, bloggers and news outlets began running stories about Apple's inappropriate and invasive move. Adding to the original frustrations of having had their accounts "spammed" or "hijacked," iTunes users found that deleting the invasive and space-hogging album (which has generally received mediocre reviews) was not possible. Apple responded to the criticism the following week by providing a means to eliminate the album from their libraries. Wired magazine observed that "Songs of Innocence is the first album to command a custom-coded deletion tool and an official accompanying support document issued by one of the largest technology companies in history."
This debacle comes on the 10-year-anniversary of Apple's first attempt to promote U2 music in tandem with its own products. In 2004, the company issued a special edition iPod which came loaded with the band's entire catalog. And although this latest fiasco means that U2's new album will receive the attention of 500 times the amount of people that purchased their previous album, it has served as more of a wake-up call regarding Big Brother tactics than it has of spreading U2's ethos of fighting social injustice.
Apart from security updates and voluntary subscription downloads of specific content, like podcasts, the public does not take kindly to having its devices accessed and manipulated without permission. Granted, when people sign an agreement with Apple, they give the company permission to do stuff like this, but evidently not too many people accept it with grace. Furthermore, given the recent exploit involving compromised, intimate, celebrity images from Apple's iCloud facility, the public's impressive backlash to the U2 incident may be indicative that people are getting weary of being violated at both ends.