Apple Censorship

By Xah Lee. Date:

While writing reviews on Kindle and iPad, i learned that Apple practices heavy censorship. Not just about technology issues of what software technology is allowed to run, such as Adobe Flash, but actual contents from established newspapers, magazines, cartoons. Here are some details gathered from Wikipedia.

Censorship on Nudity

In May 2009, Apple rejected the first version of 'Newspapers', an iPhone app that let users read content from 50+ newspapers around the world, including the New York Times, France's Le Monde, and the United Kingdom tabloid The Sun. The app was rejected because the topless “Page 3” girls daily features were described as “obscene”. A second version of the application was submitted, removing access to The Sun, and adding a price tag of £0.59. The app was made available in the summer, after the release of the iPhone 3.0 software.[53][54]

Note that “Page 3”, is a well-known feature of The Sun, basically features photo of topless or nude females.

Censorship on Ancient Text

Here is a rejection because it contains the book Kama Sutra. Quote from Wikipedia:

Another application, of similar nature to 'Newspapers', called 'Eucalyptus' allowed users to download e-books to their iPhone, though was censored by Apple because one of the e-books that could have been downloaded was the Kama Sutra. The ban has since been lifted.[55]

The Hypocrisy

They censor nudity, but don't censor big, well-known, porn money makers like Playboy.

It should be noted that the App Store has Playboy and Sports Illustrated adult-rated apps that have yet to be removed, while some apps by others were removed citing adult content which has resulted in accusations of hypocrisy.[58][59][60]

In November 2009, the application of Stern (a mainstream German weekly magazine with a print circulation of about 900,000) was deleted for several weeks without warning.[57][61] In January 2010, Europe's largest newspaper, German tabloid Bild, removed content from the iPhone version of its print edition at the request of Apple, and later it had to modify one of its applications - like in the Stern case because of nudity.[62] The Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) warned that with such interventions Apple might be moving towards censorship.[62]

… Workers at the fashion magazine Dazed and Confused have nicknamed their iPad edition the “Iran edition”.[56]

Censorship On Satire

In December 2009, Apple banned a cartoon app called NewsToons by cartoonist Mark Fiore, on the grounds that it “ridiculed public figures.”[63][64]

In April 2010, Fiore won the Pulitzer prize for his political satire cartoons, making history as the very first internet-only cartoonist to win the prestigious journalistic prize.[65][63][64]

Following public outcry after the story broke in the wake of the award, Apple asked Fiore to resubmit his app. Fiore said, “Sure, mine might get approved, but what about someone who hasn't won a Pulitzer and who is maybe making a better political app than mine? Do you need some media frenzy to get an app approved that has political material?”[64]

Bravo to Mark Fiore.

Censorship On Music

Also in May 2009, Trent Reznor of the rock band Nine Inch Nails announced, via his Twitter account, that Apple had rejected an update to the Nine Inch Nails application due to “objectionable content”.[67] The developer posted a message on the Nine Inch Nails discussion boards explaining the situation further: “v1.0 is live. v1.0.3 got rejected due to content yet the app has no content in it. This was mainly a stability release to fix the bug that crashes the app for international users. The bug was fixed 24 hours after 1.0 went live and we have been waiting for apple to approve it ever since. Meanwhile the app continues to get a growing number of 1 star ratings from international users understandably frustrated by the bug. But looks like our hands are tied”.[68] Apple later permitted the update.[69]

Here is what Steve Jobs has to say about censorship:

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone … Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone” – Steve Jobs[56]

With all due respect to Steve's visions and innovation, moral his ass.

Here Comes The Comical

Here are some comical parts out of the censorship.

I Am Rich

there is a iphone app, called I Am Rich. Quote from Wikipedia:

In August 2008, an application known as I Am Rich was released in the store, “a work of art with no hidden function at all”, with its only purpose being to show other people that they were able to afford it, as it cost US$999.99, €799.99, and UK£599.99.[46] The application was removed from the App Store the day following its release, on August 6, 2008.[47] Eight people had bought it before it was pulled.[48]

YouPorn Response

Due to the exclusion of porn from the App Store, YouPorn and others changed their video format from Flash to H.264 and HTML5 specifically for the iPad.[78][79] In an e-mail exchange[80] with Ryan Tate from Valleywag, Steve Jobs claimed the iPad to offer “freedom from porn”, leading to many upset replies including Adbustings in Berlin by artist Johannes P. Osterhoff[81][82] and in San Francisco during WWDC10.[83]

LOL. The war of porn formats.

Here is some detail of some more blatent cases and related examples.

Steve Jobs and Apple