Apple removes photography app 500px over nudity concerns

Apple has removed the photography app 500px from the App Store over concerns that images of nudity are too easy to find. And... wow, unless there's some huge part of this story we still don't know, the jokes, ridicule, frustration, face-palming, condemnations, complaints, and triple entendres pretty much all write themselves. What makes this even more asinine is that the update that got 500px pulled was the one designed to make nude images even harder to find. Sarah Perez reports for TechCrunch:

The Apple reviewer told the company that the update couldn’t be approved because it allowed users to search for nude photos in the app. This is correct to some extent, but 500px had actually made it tough to do so, explains Tchebotarev. 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 types of photos were hidden. To shut off safe search, 500px actually required its users to visit their desktop website and make an explicit change.

It's important to remember we're not talking with porn here. 500px doesn't allow porn. We're talking about nudity in artistic photography. Apple's always made it clear they had two developer platforms, the App Store for curated apps, and web apps for anything goes. Porn has gone the web app route. There's no reason 500px shouldn't be in the App Store with every other app that allows access to nude photos, including, as Phil Nickinson of Android Central pointed out, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+, and of course, every web browser app, including APPLE'S OWN SAFARI.

That's why any app with full web access has to display a warning for the kinds of content that can be found on the full web. If 500px didn't include the proper age rating and warning, however, it seems like that could have been easily corrected before things got so public.

I won't mention the tethering apps, knock off platform games, scam apps, and other nonsense that actually does get approved, because when you're dealing with humans, human mistakes happen. This feels like one of those mistakes, and hopefully it gets corrected quickly.

It's also important to point out that this isn't "censorship". Apple has the right to decide what's in, and what's not in their store. No government or other power forced Apple to remove any apps. They exercised their own discretion, just like Walmart does with its shelves, and NBC and the New York Times do their content. That doesn't mean it sucks any less, just that it's not censorship.

Update: The Verge received a comment from Apple PR saying 500px contained "pornographic" images and customers had complained about "possible child porn" in the app. The developer claimed it was the first 500px heard of that.

Oy.

Source: TechCrunch, The Verge

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 18 comments. Add yours.

ericsmcdonald says:

And seriously. What is so offensive about nudity? Everyone has either one set of parts or the other set!

Dev from tipb says:

Hard to believe that Apple is *still* creating vague guidelines for reviewers to use, and applying them unequally across the store.

MightyMac says:

Tumblr? Twitter? They are all apps that have content from another source. Make them 17+.. If anything, 500px is done with class, with art -

muitosabao says:

This is just too bad to be true.

gordol says:

And yet, violent games where the point is to murder people are perfectly fine...

killthepig says:

500px is banned over nudity and NRA apps are available for kids...............way to go apple.

Haukeye says:

Try again. Comparing nudity with NRA apps is makes you sound like a mindless mainstream media sucking pansy.

Jay47 says:

i think your the one that sounds mindless with that comment. you should take a day and do some search on apple store and see the amount of things that shouldn't be allowed.

Planetary Paul says:

Still a handful other 500px apps available here in the Dutch App store, And now everybody knows about it. Some serious promotion of 500px.....

David Metzener says:

OK, I keep reading about apps being removed due to the ability to find nudity in them. I'm sorry, but I think the easiest app to find nudity/porn on the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch is (drum roll please...) Mobile Safari.

In fact, any browser is capable of finding nudity/porn pretty darn easy these days.

So is Apple going to pull Chrome, iCabMobile or Safari from iOS?

They need to stop pulling apps like 500px until they clean their own house.

Also, I suspect the new Flickr app is next on the chopping block. I was able to find nude images pretty darn quickly in that app.

As much as I love Apple for some things like my iPhone and iPad, I get very irritated over things like this.

bergman says:

This is asinine. 500PX is a great app showcasing some excellent photographers. The developer went out of his way to default to a child friendly interface....and yes I enjoy the nude photos none of which could be construed to be pornographic.

Byzantium says:

I guess Apple should get rid of Reddit apps too because I can find hardcore user submitted pornography there if I want.

luqman24 says:

Like this'll stop them from finding nude pictures elsewhere, Apple...

Roshizzle731 says:

I get most of my iPorn from Tumblr anyway.

BuhdeeBoy says:

Such a joke! I'm a photographer, I love that app and look through it almost daily. Anyone can get to much worse photos with Safari way easier. They better bring it back