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?