Oh internet, how you go in phases. First, it was everyone (myself included) complaining about the U2 album showing up in their iTunes account. Now, it’s everyone complaining about people complaining about the U2 album showing up in their iTunes account. Personally, I’m glad that Apple decided to do this promotion with a sub-par U2 album. Because if it hadn’t been a band (and an album) so decidedly cool to dislike they may have gotten away with it.
What would they have gotten away with? The idea that software companies can force data on to your devices. See, that’s the scary precedent that they were going to set. This isn’t like the (PRODCUT)RED iPod from the early 2000s, where you had to buy a specific edition to get the U2 back catalog. This is an album that was pushed to everyone who had a particular piece of software installed (in this case, iTunes). Usually, when this happens we call it spam (best case) or malware (worst case). Personally, I consider it adware. It’s an advertisement for U2 forced onto my computer.
Those who think it’s ridiculous to be upset about this, because “it’s just a free album” aren’t thinking past this one instance. What if Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow paid Apple enough money and suddenly you had all their videos on your computer? Videos that, by the way, you cannot delete. And if you don’t want to have them you have to turn off autodownload (aka break the functionality of your device). But they still show as “purchased.” The only way they can be deleted is with a special patch if people make enough of a fuss. What if a politician paid enough money to get their book or documentary on your device during an election cycle? What if Jenny McCarthy pushed her anti-vaccine crazy onto everyone’s device? Is it still “just free videos” or “just a free book?”
iDevices and iTunes are not your Gmail account. They are not Facebook. They are not free. You paid for them when you bought your device, and when you buy things from the iTunes store. You have a right to expect certain control over your device. And that includes not having content forced on you.