iOS parental controls blocking the word 'Asian' in searches

How to use the Smart Search bar in Safari on iPhone and iPad
How to use the Smart Search bar in Safari on iPhone and iPad (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • It appears parental controls on iPhone and iPad are blocking searches that contain the word "Asian".
  • Searches for topics including Asian Food and Asian countries are unavailable when the 'Limit adult websites' setting is enabled.

A new report says that parental controls for iPhone and iPad are blocking searches containing the word "Asian" on iPhone and iPad.

From The Independent:

Apple's iPhones and iPads automatically block the word "Asian" if users turn on in-built blockers for "adult content".In iOS 14, the company's mobile operating system, users have the options to limit screen time settings. Under those settings include content and privacy sections, where parents can limit web content between "unrestricted access", "limit adult websites", and "allowed websites only".

According to the report, the 'limit adult websites' setting stops Safari from displaying content or conducting searches for anything that includes the word "Asian" in the title. As the report notes, any such attempt is met with a message stating "the URL was blocked by a content filter." According to The Independent, the feature also works to block searches containing the words "teen", "amateur", and "mature":

"The URL was blocked by a content filter", the error message states. The message does not come up when searching for the words "black", "white", "Arab", "Korean", or "French" – other popular racial categories on pornographic websites – nor "schoolgirl", but is activated when users search for "teen", "amateur", and "mature".

Twitter user Steven Shen reportedly spotted the issue and reported it to Apple in December, but to no avail. Whilst the filters are obviously meant to target popular categories on pornographic websites, the filter is also blocking searches for phrases such as "Asian food" or "Asian countries." The issue does not occur on Mac.

Shen told The Independent that this was "unlikely" to be an intentional coding issue, and was more likely an AI bug.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9