Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pornography Or Art? Apple Doesn't Care As It Pulls 500px App

Censorship is nothing new to the Apple store, however rarely do you find Apple pulling 'artistic' flavored apps over concerns that it is too easy for users to search for nude photos in an app. According to TechCrunch that is exactly why Apple has pulled the plug the iOS apps from photo sharing site 500px.

500px is well known in the photog world as a high quality site for photographers to share photos. While the site may occasionally play host to several nude shots the “nude” photos on 500px aren’t necessarily the same types of nude images users may find on other photo-sharing communities. That is, they’re not typically pornographic in nature. These are generally high quality artistic styled shots. In fact it is against the 500px TOS to display anything but as 500px COO Evgeny Tchebotarev was quick to point out. “We don’t allow pornographic images. If something is purely pornographic, it’s against our terms and it’s deleted,” Tchebotarev notes.

Apparently the 'artistic' nature of the images offers little interest to Apple. The Next Web secured this statement from Apple: "The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines. We also received customer complaints about possible child pornography. We've asked the developer to put safeguards in place to prevent pornographic images and material in their app."

The old 500px app resided in the App Store for 16 months and this new version was no more nor less "safe" than the previous one.

Currently, 500px relies on the community to identify any inappropriate images that may appear on their website. Users then need to report those images for review before they are potentially removed. The current  iOS app provides a “safe search” mode where an explicit or adult related material would be hidden by default. To shut off safe search, 500px actually required its users to visit their desktop website and make an explicit change.

The company had told Apple yesterday that it could make a change to its apps to address the issue at hand, and this would also automatically take care of the problem in the dozen or so third-party applications using its API, which also include big names like Flipboard and Google Currents. However, Apple couldn’t wait for the change, which was expected to take a day, and pulled the apps.

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