Last Updated: January 18, 2022
After announcing new guidelines that include removing “hookup apps” from its app store at WWDC 2021 on June 7, Apple made its users wonder whether LGBTQ+ apps would make the cut. Apple has now clarified its stance that only apps featuring pornographic content are on the blacklist, as reported by the Guardian.
The initial vague statement caused misunderstanding and outrage from members of the LGBTQ+ community, who were concerned about the future of dating apps such as Grindr and Scruff—two of the most popular dating apps in the community. The timing of this misunderstanding didn’t do Apple any favors, as the controversy happened during Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.
Realizing the consequences of the vague statement, an Apple spokesman cleared the air by explaining that the ban refers only to apps that feature pornographic content and that the aforementioned dating apps won’t be affected.
Apps Sharing Inappropriate Material Will Still Be Banned
Apple’s main issue is with the inappropriate content shared on some apps, or, as the guidelines put it, “overtly sexual or pornographic material.” In a more detailed explanation of what this entails, Apple refers to “explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.”
Although explicit content is shared on “regular” dating apps as well, Apple is targeting apps whose primary focus is sharing pornographic content. The tech giant believes these apps encourage prostitution, which is why it has had a negative stance towards them for a while.
(Besides avoiding such platforms, users frequenting dating apps can also protect themselves by vetting any potential date they find.)
Even after setting the record straight, however, Apple refused to name any apps that will be affected by the ban.
Concerns Grow Over Apple’s Power
With over 258 billion apps expected to be downloaded in 2022, a certain level of regulation is expected by the companies whose stores are selling them. However, the line between regulation and censorship can be thin.
Even with the current ban not being what the public thought it to be, Apple has been raising concerns among the public due to some restrictive behavior for a while now. With great power comes great responsibility, and according to some, Apple has been showing some signs of misusing that power.
The most prominent example of this is Apple’s behavior in China. Complying with the instructions of the Chinese government, Apple has censored and banned multiple apps from the Chinese App Store. The apps of concern are usually foreign news outlets and apps targeted to LGBTQ+ individuals.
There have been other reports of Apple regularly yielding to the censorship practices of the Chinese government. While it’s something Apple may not have been able to avoid, many users (especially marginalized groups) are uneasy about the future of Apple’s regulation practices in the US and the rest of the world.