Apple pulls 500px app over nude photos (update: it’s back)

By , Jan 22, 2013

500px 2.0 for iOS (iPhone screnshot 001)500px 2.0 for iOS (iPhone screnshot 002)

I’ve grown to love the 500px photography service. Unlike filtered shots of people’s food and pets, snaps served on 500px are of high quality and the built-in store means I can offer some of my best photos and earn 70 percent of the revenue from sales. The company released its iOS app last November and said more than half of its 1.5 million registered users are using 500px on their iPad. Moreover, 93 percent of return users and session times stood at 40+ minutes.

Unfortunately, looks like Apple’s review team has an issue with the latest update because the search feature might produce some candid shots of naked men and women. This was apparently enough for the puritan Apple police to remove the 500px app from the App Store.

UPDATE [January 29, 2013 at 8:50am Pacific]: the 500px app has returned to the App Store following pornography removal.

UPDATE: The Verge reports that 500px is back on Apple’s store as both sides appear to have worked through the issue. TechCrunch has more: the app still has a category for Nude photos for logged in users, but there’s now an age-gate warning and a new Report Photo button to flag potentially offensive or objectionable images.

Sarah Perez of TechCrunch talked to 500px COO Evgeny Tchebotarev who confirmed that 500px for iOS (free download) and its recent acquisition ISO500 (free download) have both been pulled from the Apple App Store due to concerns about nude photos.

By default, these apps are safe, he explains:

New users couldn’t just launch the app and locate the nude images, he says, the way you can today on other social photo sharing services like Instagram or Tumblr, for instance.

Instead, the app defaulted to a “safe search” mode where these type of photos were hidden. To shut off safe search, 500px  actually required its users to visit their desktop website and make an explicit change.

Interestingly enough, a recent launch of iTunes in Russia was marred with porn as accessing the “more films in different languages” section in the iTunes Store resulted in links to escort services and pornographic content on the web.

From Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines:

• 18.1 Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings”, will be rejected
• 18.2 Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (ex “Chat Roulette” Apps) will be rejected

In response to the app removal, Apple said in a statement (via The Verge):

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.

Rules be damned, this sounds a little too drastic a measure to take.

Frankly speaking, I was hoping these kinds of app rejections were behind us. After all, Apple’s been demonstrating the willingness to relax some of its stringent App Store rules over the past two years.

But when it comes to nudity, Apple is like Disney: a safe environment for the whole family.

The Apple brand reflects this stance. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs acknowledged as much, famously dissing Android in April 2010 as a non-curated environment that will happily host objectionable content.

He said that Apple has a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.

“Folks who want porn can buy and Android phone”, Jobs quipped.

I’m all for keeping porn out of kids hands. Heck–I’m all for ensuring that I don’t have to see it unless I want to. But…that’s what parental controls are for. Put these types of apps into categories and allow them to be blocked by their parents should they want to.

Still, pornography is a hard thing to avoid and Apple can cry all it wants, but that won’t change the fact that such a strict stance on adult content is one of the reasons people jailbreak their iPhones.

Just out of curiosity: what’s your position on porn on the iPhone?

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  • MrElectrifyer

    Great move Apple, prevent the spoiling of the innocense of majority of your product users by all means. Those dirty minded freaks who are desperate to view porn on a mobile device already know the words required to make it pop-up in Safari.

  • Int3nsive

    We need a account to download apps right? They know our age, right? So why Apple just make a filter for kids?!?! Seriously… this is ridiculous. They really need to change some of their rules! Block Nudity, allows kids to download apps with guns… because fuck logic, that’s why….

    “But when it comes to nudity, Apple is like Disney: a safe environment for the whole family.”

    We bought a smartphone, not a toy… kids shouldn’t be allowed to get a cellphone either… especially a smartphone because of security and privacy reasons! and if parents think that their kids should use a smartphone, they can use the parental controls…

    • Alex Blaha

      I agree with your first two statements, but the app store isn’t only available on the iPhone.. Remember it’s also on the iPod touch and iPad.. which, especially the iPod touch, is more directed to kids.

  • hack_nug

    Apple should stop selling the iPhone itself because you can use it to browse porn on the Internet. Apple should do the same for (almost) everyone of their products.

    • SimonReidy

      And remove the camera in case anyone dare take a nude photo. Then they better remove Safari and all other browsers. Actually Facebook and Twitter will have to go too. In fact just so our poor eyes are never subjected to the horror of a naked human, Apple better remove Internet access altogether! :)
      Heaven forbid should I ever stumble across a naked artistic photo of a female! Or the horrors of a nude historical painting! /s

      Apple’s puritan, holier-than-thou, attitude is pathetic. This has nothing to do with “porn”. There’s a big difference between pornographic apps, and photo apps with artistic nude shots, that have to be enabled via your computer. Apparently Apple thinks we are too stupid to distinguish between art and porn.

      • hack_nug

        They will stop selling the earbuds because you can use them to listen a pornographic movie.

  • pegger1

    Don’t some games give a +17 age warning when installing?
    Is Apple going to remove Twitter from the appstore too?

  • Shingo Hoshino

    I LOVE PORN…..

    • Jackson Grong


    • Christian Zibreg

      who doesn’t? :)

  • Ron

    Doesn’t the Google Search app return nude pics as well?

    • Christian Zibreg

      good point…

  • johndhynes

    Biggest porn app: Safari

  • syler

    Flipboard does the same thing.

  • Joe Saxon

    “But when it comes to nudity, Apple is like Disney: a safe environment for the whole family.”

    You do realize Disney puts a shit ton of subliminal messages in their movies right? Sex, drugs, etc.

    • Christian Zibreg

      None of which is suable

  • Latrese

    So this they pull fast,,but a blatant ripoff app can stay in the App Store undetected for months. I don’t get it.

  • Acolz

    That’s bullshit, none of these pictures are pornographic. And if there are such, they are pulled by 500px in 24hrs anyways. The rest is art.
    I am glad I have had the app installed for months now.

  • ticky13

    This is stupid.

    How is this any different from me searching for #thonglessthursday in a Twitter client and seeing a bunch of naked women?

    • Kenrick Fernandes

      mmmm , seems like someone is looking forward to this thursday eagerly ..

  • voyaflexel

    Bitch please!

  • Ro Fleming

    If apple is going to block apps containing nudity and pornography…why the hell is Tumblr still available on the App Store???