Removal of 'Sexually 'Suggestive' Material from the App Store
Apple Senior VP of Marketing, Phil Schiller, was quoted by the New York Times in an article on the removal of 5000 sex-based app from the iTunes App Store:
“It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.”
To developers who weren’t afforded any warning or options to pre-emptively make changes where such changes would have been possible:
“We obviously care about developers, but in the end have to put the needs of the kids and parents first.”
As to why Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit app, the Playboy app, and a few other publication-associated apps were allowed to remain:
“The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.”
What are the needs of the kids, the parents, and the developers? Is Apple within their rights to make that determination? What of the case of the app 'Wobble iBoobs' being removed, when it has no sexual content (except the word 'Boobs') while Playboy stays in the store? See the Wobble iBoobs developer's site at Chilifresh. Also the App FHM which remains on the store.
Last edited by Lady Kaede; 02-23-2010 at 09:50 AM.
- 02-23-2010, 11:09 AM #2
What's your take on it? Don't you know that when Chairman Mao wants something done, it's gold and must be obeyed or else? Phil is just a puppet...
My take, ban them all or don't ban at all. If you have to meet in the middle, then put forth strict guidelines on how it can be approved for distribution and enforce it across all apps, regardless of developer.
Regarding 'ban them all or nothing' - I think Apple's position (although they're not explaining it very well) is the same position they took on apps that use location data just to serve up location-based ads. If an app uses location data only to serve up ads, it won't get into the app store. In the same way, if the only purpose of the app is to serve up 'objectionable' material, it is now forbidden; Playboy and FHM get to stay because they have other content that's reasonably well-known and considered by users to be valuable besides the racy pictures.
The problem with this is that whether an app uses location data just for ads is something Apple or you or I or anyone who looks at the app code and APIs can agree on: there is an objective standard. But what is 'objectionable' content is not an objective standard.
In the USA, issues of this kind are generally settled by appeal to 'community standards' - a school board in one community can vote to keep Catcher In The Rye out of the school libraries while another school board lets it in. But we don't have separate app stores for Hollywood and Billings, Montana, and no voting mechanism -- except apparently user complaints. But does that mean if enough developers and annoyed users complain about this new policy, Apple would change it back?
- 02-23-2010, 12:08 PM #4
I think Chairman Mao is too stubborn to roll back this kind of policy. He wants to attract the largest market and hopefully get the iPad to penetrate the educational market. Adult themed material is not going to cut it. I don't have a problem with the adult products of the App store. I'd just like to see Apple give clearly defined rules on what is considered adult. If I have an online store that promotes beach wear, am I not allowed to show anyone modeling a bikini or a guy wearing trunks?
Communist Apple has spoken and I hope they evolve the App store, not take an axe to bits and pieces of it to appease to this group here and that group there. They need to take down SI swimsuit, Playboy and FHM if they want to be taken seriously.
I would like to see Apple give clearly defined rules of what is considered adult; I would like to see anyone give clearly defined rules of what is considered adult. The problem is that everyone's rules will be rules of what they consider adult. If Apple's rules agree with mine, I will consider them a champion; if Apple's rules don't agree with mine, I will consider them greedy and morally debased.
- 02-23-2010, 12:57 PM #6
- 02-23-2010, 01:24 PM #7
Explicit representations of sex acts; explicit depictions of cruelty (physical or otherwise) to living beings; representations of human beings as inhuman; certain types of discussion that I find really hard to 'clearly define' - political/religious/existential - I guess I'll have to think about that category for a while.
Don't really want to turn this into a discussion of morality per se, but since you asked, how about yours?
A quick survey of recent news coverage of the issue reveals some bizarre bannings; Apple's standards aren't being applied very well (yet):
Designer swimwear retailer Simply Beach issued a press release to announce its swimsuit shopping app was removed by Apple due to "overtly sexual content." They thought the Apple email was a spam joke, then found the app had been removed. "It seems like political correctness gone mad. It's just women in bikinis, swimsuits and kaftans." From Fierce Developer
I tend to agree with Kevin Kelleher at Slate:
"There are two problems with an inconsistent and arbitrary porn-blocking policy. Actual porn always finds a way around it; and the harder you try to block it, the more you end up censoring content that isn’t porn at all."
- 02-24-2010, 11:36 AM #11
The good thing is that Apple seems to have created an explicit option for developers. Now it's just a matter of what is considered explicit in their minds. Hopefully if I write an app that represents my company that sells swimwear and a model is wearing a bikini, it isn't considered explicit.
And now Cult of Mac reports there's a new 'Explicit' category under which developers can submit apps - the obvious question is, why did they go through all they've been through in the last week if they could have quietly worked on a solution like this in the first place? Is there a power struggle going on for control of the app store processes? Or is there some major content deal that Apple can't make for the iPad unless they act really quickly to demonstrate the cleanliness of the App Store?
UPDATED: Nope, that's gone again, and Apple says not to expect it back . . .
Last edited by Lady Kaede; 02-25-2010 at 04:21 AM.