Odds and Ends 

Tumblr just added a switch in the iOS Settings that lets you turn the porn back on

Heres an interesting change: Tumblrs iOS application just received an update which now lets you turnon or off adult-oriented, NSFW search results just by toggling a switch in iOSs Settings. Thats right: you can now switch on or off the Tumblr porn with ease. Weirder still, Tumblrs note about the change in the App Store update text says this was implemented per Apples content guidelines.

Why is that weird?

Because Apples developer guidelines at least today explicitly tell app developers not to do this sort of thing.

Above: Tumblrs iOS app update text

While Apple has never permittedexplicit apps whose sole purpose is to serve pornography, it long ago carved out an exception for social networks hostinguser-generated content, provided they agreed to filter and hide the NSFW content by default.

This isan issue that greatly impacts Tumblr, given that its blogging network is actually composed of a lot of porn. In fact, according to website analytics service SimilarWeb, adult content is the top category that drivesdirect clicks toTumblrs desktop site, accounting for20.53% of clicks, compared with the next-largest referring category, books and literature, which drove just 7.61% of clicks.

Above: Tumblrs new porn toggle

Tumblr has always hadNSFW content, saying that its policy about this sort of material is a live-and-let-live kind of thing, but it draws the line at actually hosting sexually explicit videos. (Embed them, it says.)

To be allowed into the iTunes App Store, Tumblrhas had to filter out and hide this content in its iOS app by default. Theres a loophole, though as Im sure manyof you know.

According to Apples App Store Review Guidelines, apps like Tumblr are allowed to show the NSFW contentif the user turns the setting on via the services website.

Heres the full text, per Apples App Store Review Guidelines, about how thissystem is supposed to work, emphasis ours:

Apps with user-generated content or services that end up being used primarily for pornographic content, objectification of real people (e.g. hot-or-not voting), making physical threats, or bullying do not belong on the App Store and may be removed without notice. If your app includes user-generated content from a web-based service, it may display incidental mature NSFW content, provided that the content is hidden by default and only displayed when the user turns it on via your website.

Tumblr clearly fits in that latter category of apps that display incidental mature NSFW content, but its now being told to put a toggle in iOSs Settings?

Hmmm.

The most logical explanation for this sort of change is that Apple will allow this setting to be locked down via its parental controls at some point. Thats not the case right now, though.

Under Settings > General > Restrictions, you can block the kidsfrom using Apples built-in apps, block app downloads, and can block apps based on their current rating. (Tumblr is rated 17+, for example). However, there is not a wayto force something like a Safe Search toggle switch to remain on.

Above: iOS 10s Restrictions screen

Its possible that Apple will roll out improved parental controls in the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 11, which is expected to be announced at WWDC this summer. Perhaps it directed Tumblr to implement this settingin preparation of that change. (And maybe Apple didnt expect Tumblr to code the fix so quicklyor call it out in the apps update text!)

Other apps where adult content could be a concern like Google, Twitter, Reddit, Flickr, 500px, and Pinterest dont currently offer this sort of toggle switch in the iOS Settings, even though they may offer content filtering mechanisms of their own in their apps or on their websites.

Tumblr used to have in-app Safe Search controls as well, somehow bypassing Apples rules. This is an area Apple has cracked downon before, as with third-party Reddit apps. But in that case, the Reddit app makers were advised that after removing their toggle switches, users would have to turn on NSFW content from the Reddit website, as per Apples guidelines. Tumblr is doing it differently.

Of course, anotherexplanation is that Apple is just chilling out about NSFW content in general, but that seems far less likely given the companyshistorical position on a being a family-friendly App Store.

Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone, Steve Jobs famouslysaid.

Apple has not responded to requests for comment about the matter. Tumblr declined to comment.

Disclosure: Yahoo owns Tumblr, and is in the process of being acquired by Verizon; Verizon owns TechCrunch parent company AOL.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/28/tumblr-just-added-a-switch-in-the-ios-settings-that-lets-you-turn-back-on-the-porn/

Related posts