Apple steps up its moral crusade against the evils of app nudity


 By Simon Davies

Apple has embarked on a moral rampage against apps that allow users to view images of nudity. Several apps have been caught with their pants down enabling images of people doing things to each other while naked. This outrageous functionality breaches API content guidelines.

Mass censorship of this kind cannot have been an easy path for the tech giants.

Apple last week controversially removed a popular app – 500px – from its store because the photo sharing function enabled exposure to naughty bits. You can see an example here (not suitable for minors or people of a sensitive disposition).

Mass censorship of this kind cannot have been an easy path for the tech giants. Apple has always proclaimed a commitment to defending free expression. However tities are apparently a step too far.

Viewing a naked breast may seem innocuous, but the hidden danger is that this exposure could lead to browsing of the Internet, which venomously contains pictures of naked men hanging by their toes from chandeliers while being flogged with wet towels by women wearing tightly fitted leather biker gear. Or so I am told.

Indeed Apple takes nudity control so seriously that when confronted by an outraged tech-press over the removal of 500px it went to the trouble not only of upgrading nudity to “porn”, but also insinuating that the app contained child pornography – a claim which 500px had never before heard. In the quest for moral superiority the ends often justify the means.

However Apple may have met its match. Last month it contacted one of the world’s biggest gay dating sites, Planet Romeo, demanding the removal of all images of nudity from its apps. This communication was greeted with dismay – in part because a gay dating site without nudity is like a dog without a woof. There are notable exceptions like outeverywhere.com, but many other sites are now in the frame for prohibition.

Tities are apparently a step too far

Planet Romeo had no intention of taking this demand laying down and immediately engaged the Department of Communication of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany to help canvas the views of its million or so members. The resulting “Online Nudity Survey” was sent to all members in 25 languages and has already drawn 100,000 responses.

The nudity prohibition might be minutely justified in some circumstances on open platforms but Planet Romeo is a membership site. It already has legal responsibility to police both its content and the age of users.

However Apple faces a much more immediate problem. If it continues to insist on shutting out apps that enable viewing of nudity, when are they planning to stop browser downloads from their sites?