Apple applies for iPhone anti-sexting patent

Apple has applied for yet another patent; this one is for filtering text messages. Why would one want to filter text messages, you ask? To prevent sexting of course!

Sexting -- SMS text messages containing sexual content -- restrictions could allows the user (or parent of the user) to block the exchange of text-based messages containing any type of content, or to have the offending content removed before the transmission is complete.

Systems, devices, and methods are provided for enabling a user to control the content of text-based messages sent to or received from an administered device. In some embodiments, a message will be blocked (incoming or outgoing) if the message includes forbidden content. In other embodiments, the objectionable content is removed from the message prior to transmission or as part of the receiving process. The content of such a message is controlled by filtering the message based on defined criteria.

The patent is not only about stopping material, however. It also talks about requiring certain text to be included in the messages.

The criteria may be defined according to a parental control application. These techniques also may be used, in accordance with instructional embodiments, to require the administered devices to include certain text in messages. These embodiments might, for example, require that a certain number of Spanish words per day be included in e-mails for a child learning Spanish.

If Apple adds this type of control to the iPhone, it will be very appealing to parents who want to make sure their teens aren't engaging in activity they do not approve of. Teens, however, will likely not welcome this feature with open arms. On the flip side, the more control a parent has over an electronic device, the more likely they will purchase it for their child.

As a new mom to a baby girl, you better believe I hope this type of control is available when I'm ready to give her her first iPhone.

Any parents out there hoping to see this feature hit iPhones in the near future? Any teens hoping this feature does not hit the scene until you're out of the control of your parents?


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Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

Apple applies for iPhone anti-sexting patent


BUT it can't be perfect because teens now dont use complete words. And u can easily send @$$ and b00bs without sending the legit words. Or t!ts and pu$$y. I mean come on, Apple. When there's a teenage will, there's totally a way!

Sorry Leanna but electronic filters aren't the best way to shield kids from this type of behavior (surely there will be jailbreak apps to get around it). The best way to combat this type of behavior is with education and love. Be the best role model you can for your child and instill your values in her.
Ok enough of that preaching, I have to send a pic of my %#*!$ to my girlfriend.

How about getting TIMESTAMPS for EVERY TEXT MESSAGE before we worry about the content our 'friends' are sending us. PRIORITIES APPLE....PRIORITIES!

If they're going to experiment then better virtually than physically. No unwanted pregnancies or STDs!

@csullivan1980 It says it because the device used for the screen shot is jailbroken u can have anything you want where the carrier logo is :) greenpois0n!!!
I also have to agree what about facetime and using t!ts and pu$$y

My cousin has an evo and she showed me if you text bitch it turns it into #### or if you use speech text and say bitch it does the same thing as #####

Those of us with jailbroken phones have that ability through bitesms. Yes, that only applies to some 10% of owners, and yes, it should have been part of the original messages app, but still, the capability exists.

IF this goes through, I hope apple will ease the auto-correct guidelines. that would be my only request for this patent. it really sucks. if i write "sh!t", the iPhone will change it to "shot" or "shut" EVERY TIME! it gets REALLY annoying. i know i can turn auto-correct off, but it would be more of a pain in my a$$ to retype all of my little screw ups that i type (cuz i dont know the meaning of the word "SLOW"), then to leave it on and deal with the PG required texting already instilled on my iPhone. and hell... really? we gotta suggest "he'll" EVERY time? but if i type "EMINEM" exactly like that (in all caps) once, it will suggest that format every time. if it's got a word bank memory like that, it should be able to see that i use the word "hell" a hell of a lot more than the word (contraction, excuse me) "he'll".

Are you serious??? .. So the kids won't be able to use certain words even if it's not sexting. Come on .. This is a terrible idea

@ Brian - Arin said "i know i can turn auto-correct off" -
maybe you should read stuff through if you are going to waste your time trying to show someone up.

Don't need big brother monitoring my transmissions anymore than they are already. I don't sext in the first place, but the last thing we need is to sacrifice more freedom by participating in this. NO APPLE! THAT'S A BAD APPLE! We need devices and providers that act as a dumb pipe not ones that want to control and censor. That should be the parent's responsibility.

I'm not down with this. While I can appreciate a parent wanting to protect his or her child, I don't like how slippery this slope is.
If the child can't be trusted to use the phone appropriately, then the child can't be trusted with the phone. After all, Facetime...y'know?

Words cannot express how stupid this patent is, or how ineffectual any implementation would be against sexting. And that is not because of a word filter :)
As a parent, I actually hate measures such as these, because too many parents rely on them overmuch and shirk their own responsibilities. To a determined teen (pre-teen), automatic filters are little more than speed bumps, an annoyance at best. If you have not helped your kids develop the necessary good judgement by the time they ask for iPhones, all this will do is make the naughty bits even more forbidden fruit, and encourage them to start twiddling those thumbs more creatively.

Here we go again. It's okay to pretend you're blowing people's heads off in a game, but it's not okay to express natural human feelings. I wish there was another planet I could go to where society has evolved. :roll:

Its a stupid idea, probably one of the worse ideads ever!
If your concerned about what your children are getting up to on their iPhones behind your back then you really should be looking at how you 'parent' your children (so to speak)
Why should Apple be stepping in? Makes no sense
Plus, what's next? Filters to prevent couples/lovers/friends being intimate over facetime? Ludacris
A bit of accountability needs to come into place
Tbh I don't even see how Apple have ground to stand on with this type thing in the first place, baffles me

Yay! Now kids will be more apt to just send pictures rather than describing themselves through text messages! Ps I use mail as a communication technology more than SMS.

This is a little too much. Seriously, for anyone to even have an Iphone or even any type of smart phone...they probably have the sex talk already. And like many already stated...u give ppl video chat, u are inviting it.

When is the world going to realise you can't sensor the real world from kids, let them learn. Screw Apple, I say bring on the Jailbreaks!

So how many apple fan boys will ditch the iPhone and switch over to android, open source, no nazi rule, great phones, flash, and no steve jobs

Do that many teens even have iPhones? I could see giving them iPod Touches, but iPhones? Seriously? If I were a parent, I wouldn't see any reason to give my kid any type of cell phone until he or she was driving. An iPhone would have to be something that he/she earned with responsible behavior.

As usual, Apple trying to patent something already in existence. Next thing you know, Apple will try to patent the use of toilet paper.

Hate to break it to you, Apple, but censoring and controlling your child's social life via technology is NOT the way to foster a loving and communicative relationship.

Pretty sure I agree with the above. Time stamps or every message would be great. And not the time they were received when you turn the phone on. But the actual time they were sent on the server like samsung phones have. Oh ya. And how about a real notification system that doesn't interrupt everything I do and doesn't make me close 40 messages before I can hang up a call. Be quick apple or I'm gone to android within 6 months

So this will be an option right? I don't sext, but i don't always use "clean" language either. I don't understand why sexting is that bad anyways. If they don't send pics and talk about it via texting then they will just do it in person at parties that are rarely supervised. My wife's younger (14 & 16)cousins are constantly going to unsupervised parties and doing this stuff (i know because they aren't shy talking about it). I honestly don't think there is anyway to stop this behavior. You may be able to hinder it, but unless you lock your child up 24/7 they can and will find a way to engage in some form of sexual activity. They only thing you can do is preach protection.
I don't look forward to dealing with this when i have kids.

Perspective, folks. This would be something you could turn on and off. That way, all of you hippies who give your kids condoms at age 11 can thumb your nose at another form of "control" while another generation grows up believing rules and civility are outdated. Don't worry, Apple won't abandon you!

I'm all for this.. So long as instead of just not sending forbidden words it replaces them with something more charming, something you can imagine Cary Grant saying to Grace Kelly. :-D It would certainly liven things up from the usual fare.

I don't know if anybody got that joke in the picture. I just got through was a good five minute laugh too.

"When is the world going to realise you can’t sensor the real world from kids, let them learn. Screw Apple, I say bring on the Jailbreaks!"
When are people going to learn to spell?
Censor, not sensor
Realize, not realise

As much as Apple might apply for and actually be granted this patent, I sense a "freedom of speech" lawsuit if it ever becomes reality and actually gets implemented.

@Dan J
The problem is not "hippies," (ok, not just hippies :) ), it is people thinking that civility can be imposed by technology. Never has been. Never will be. These sorts of "controls" will just encourage those who should be teaching civility to ignore their duty, relying on a big brother (company, in this case, not government) to do it for them.
No grounds for a suit. Sure, these measures seem easily circumvented, conceptually wrong-headed, and altogether stupid, but there is nothing in US law that prohibits private companies from baking stupid things into their products. Or consumers from buying them.

Kids were having sex before texting existed. Kids will have sex after texting is censored. Kids have sex, it's why all of us went through puberty.
This just will mean all teens jailbreak their phones...

"freedom of speech" only applies to government enacting laws. The constitution doesn't say "Apple can't censor your use of Apple products".

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