Response to This American Life story retraction

March 18, 2012

Parts of the background information for our campaign to get Apple to make their products ethically was based on a This American Life episode that has since been retracted. Because we cannot verify through other sources that workers at Foxconn have been fired because of repetitive stress injuries that prevent them from doing their jobs, we have removed that claim wherever it is found on our website.

Below are all the mentions on our website that we are removing. However, it is important to note two things:

  1. The core facts of the case have not changed. Apple is still guilty of willfully ignoring massive human rights abuses at their supplier factories in China, reported on by dozens of reliable sources, and almost all of the claims we have made about Apple’s treatment of workers are supported by those other sources. For example, you can read the excellent report in the New York Times.
  2. We have not changed the “Ethical iPhone” petition text to which SumOfUs members signed their names. It reads simply: “The quality of working conditions matters as much as the quality of your products. Make the iPhone 5 and your other products ethically.”

Here are the changes we have made to our website in light of the story’s retraction:

We have deleted from the original petition page:

“After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard.”

We have deleted from the update on n-hexane we published in February:

“And many have suffered long-term disabilities from repetitive stress injuries to their hands that could easily have been avoided if workers were rotated through different roles on the assembly line on a regular basis.”

From the follow-up thank you page and thank you email for the ethical iPhone petition:

“and forced repetitive motion that wears away their joints until they can no longer function”