Why Taylor Swift’s app is shutting down

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      Taylor Swift might be famed for her tendency to be accessible to fans, but the pop superstar is closing off one alley of communication by shuttering her one-year-old mobile app next month.

      The Swift Life—an app that invites users to trade their virtual currency for exclusive pictures, videos, news, and Swift-branded “Taymojis”—announced this week that it would cease operating on February 1.

      The app was created in partnership with freemium mobile games maker Glu Mobile, which is responsible for building a number of celebrity-branded apps aimed geared towards engaging (and profiting) off their digital fanbase. As well as The Swift Life, Glu was responsible for the now-defunct Britney Spears: American Dream, Katy Perry Pop, Nicki Minaj: The Empire, and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Of those, only Kim Kardashian’s offering has found financial success.

      A statement accompanying the announcement suggested that The Swift Life’s closure was set up to mark the end of the popstar’s Reputation album cycle—a record that came out one-and-a-half years ago. Critics, however, have ventured that the decision was due more to the app’s notoriety as a home for right-wing bigots and homophobic commenters, who aimed to troll young users and attempt to tarnish Swift’s squeaky clean image.

      Concerns were also raised about the amount of access that fans had to the star. Users of the app suggested that it provided little exclusive content and did not make it particularly easy to converse with Swift—a foundation upon which her brand is built, with the musician often replying to fans’ Tumblr comments, watching their Instagram stories, and even hosting listening album parties for them in her home.

      Swift herself, however, has experienced a number of fans overstepping the mark. One stalker was arrested outside her home earlier this year, and another was sentenced to 10 years’ probation. Most intrusive of all, a third entered her apartment building in New York City, and was deemed to be mentally unfit to stand trial. In the past, the singer has been forced to use facial-recognition software at concerts to search for individuals who have sent her death threats.

      With so much content from public figures readily available on social media, it’s a hard sell to ask fans to download and pay for a celebrity-branded app. While some entertainer-endorsed games and content aggregators still exist, don’t be surprised to see the pool start to dry up in 2019.

      Kate Wilson is the technology editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSays