Discord spokesperson blames Apple for NSFW content removal

Posted:
in iOS edited April 14
A new Discord policy removes NSFW servers from the iPhone and iPad apps in order to comply with an unidentified Apple policy.

Discord removes adult content in response to Apple policy
Discord removes adult content in response to Apple policy


On Tuesday, Discord announced that it would begin classifying servers based on content, specifically NSFW content. Not all NSFW content is in danger, however, and only applies to servers that focus on NSFW content only.

The company isn't providing much insight into the issue. According to Mashable, a spokesperson simply stated that the change was "to comply with Apple's policies." Which policy and why is not clear.

One possible reason is the app's age rating. On March 22, Discord announced that it had to update its age rating from 12+ to 17+ upon Apple's request. This means that any minor with an Apple ID would not be able to download the Discord app if parental controls were on.

A 17+ age rating is not ideal for an app directed at young teens. Removing all NSFW content from the iOS app would rectify this issue.

Another reason, and the one shared by The Verge is that Apple has targeted Discord in an unfair campaign to remove adult content. Apple is known to have an anti-pornography policy and doesn't allow any apps in the App Store that is primarily used to distribute pornography.

Presumably, Discord would be able to remain unchanged with a 17+ rating with its NSFW servers in place. Reddit is host to a lot of NSFW content, yet it safely holds a 17+ rating.

When we dealt with this at Tumblr, it became my full time jobs for weeks to find incredibly complex ways to appease Apple's censors. This happened every time they found a sexy blog they didn't like. It's absurd.

-- Matthew Bischoff (@mb)


Discord is not the first app to deal with issues surrounding NSFW content within its apps. Matthew Bischoff remarks that this is a similar problem he encountered while at Tumblr. Apple would seemingly target different blogs and posts at random.

AppleInsider has reached out to Discord for clarification on the matter. If Apple is indeed cracking down on adult content within the App Store, expect similar action to be taken against other popular platforms.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    I love how these companies cry about how this is about free expression when it’s completely about their bottom lines.

    Also, what person or company is unaware that parents want to be able to control what and how their kids get information and content? And more to the point, that Apple tries to tread a fine line between family friendly and creative expression — a notoriously difficult task, if the social networks are to believed (researchers say otherwise, but hey …).

    Also funny how uneven enforcement on social networks/other companies barely makes the news cycle, despite copious evidence of predatory behavior and criticism from experts. But slap “Apple” in there as a boogie-person and it’s major news. 
    baconstangJanNLwatto_cobrasgordon
  • Reply 2 of 18
    it's gonna be a few rocky years for Apple to single-handedly battle against data mining... Fortunately, most customers are aware what might be going on with their personal data. But it's gonna be tough for Apple
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    OferOfer Posts: 89unconfirmed, member
    First off, I love Apple as a company overall and am fully invested in their ecosystem. I really appreciate their dedication to privacy, the environment, and marginalized folx.

    All that being said, their ridiculously outdated and puritanical views on human sexuality are terrible.
    Beatsbaconstangbeowulfschmidtprismatics
  • Reply 4 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,651member
    And this is a bad thing because...?
    watto_cobrasgordon
  • Reply 5 of 18
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 715member
    Ofer said:
    First off, I love Apple as a company overall and am fully invested in their ecosystem. I really appreciate their dedication to privacy, the environment, and marginalized folx.

    All that being said, their ridiculously outdated and puritanical views on human sexuality are terrible.
    Many of these sites (now defunct Periscope) are havens for child predators.

    Apple has the 17+ category for a reason. Discord can chose if they want to be 17+ or freely downloaded by anybody and then have to deal with the fallout from having children ending up on NSFW servers or being groomed.
    StrangeDaysn2itivguyiqatedofreeassociatewatto_cobrasgordon
  • Reply 6 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,173member
    Ofer said:
    First off, I love Apple as a company overall and am fully invested in their ecosystem. I really appreciate their dedication to privacy, the environment, and marginalized folx.

    All that being said, their ridiculously outdated and puritanical views on human sexuality are terrible.
    Nonsense. If it's an app with NSFW content, they just want a 17+ rating on it, which apparently Discord doesn't want to do, and is trying to scrub so they can remain 12+. That isn't puritanical and is not a stance on human sexuality. See the Reddit app.

    Not having porn apps in the App Store is a separate issue, and is within their prerogative. Just like Disney doesn't do nudity on their platform. They aren't telling you can't get it elsewhere, or as content in 17+ apps, or in Safari, etc.
    edited April 14 n2itivguyiqatedoFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Apple’s rating system is awful. It should be more fine grained then just an age rating. Basically anything that is social or multiplayer needs to be 17+ because of online content. An app should also be able to adapt to the current content rating. Then they could open access to NSFW for users that don’t opt out.
    edited April 14 Ofer
  • Reply 8 of 18
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,159member
    I like how developers get upset about the rule and attempt to outline it as some secretive policy.

    IT'S LITERALLY SECTION 1 ON THE APP STORE GUIDELINES.

    1. SAFETY
    1.1 Objectionable Content
    1.1.4 Overtly sexual or pornographic material

    The fact that Apple as a 3rd party has to come in and remind the service provider about this guideline on a regular basis is not Apple being a bad guy or a "censor" - it's the service provider who is doing less than the minimum to adhere to the rules they voluntarily agreed to. The idea is simple enough, apps need to fit in a rating system, if they can't do that, then they can go the route of websites which have no content filtering.

    The worse part of all of this is that it is utterly trivial to use machine learning to efficiently scan and tag potentially objectionable content as it's uploaded. This approach is so standard that it boggles my mind that there was some fool at tumblr who was doing it by hand based on complaint reports.

    Does anyone remember what kicked off Apple's complaints against Tumblr? Child pornography, lots of it.
    edited April 14 n2itivguyfreeassociateforegoneconclusionwatto_cobrasgordon
  • Reply 9 of 18
    it's gonna be a few rocky years for Apple to single-handedly battle against data mining... Fortunately, most customers are aware what might be going on with their personal data. But it's gonna be tough for Apple
    Sadly, I don’t believe that. In my experience people have no idea that they are giving up any information at all. Frequently, the ones who are at least a little aware say they don’t care. I don’t get it but that’s what I run into. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,134member
    mknelson said:
    Ofer said:
    First off, I love Apple as a company overall and am fully invested in their ecosystem. I really appreciate their dedication to privacy, the environment, and marginalized folx.

    All that being said, their ridiculously outdated and puritanical views on human sexuality are terrible.
    Many of these sites (now defunct Periscope) are havens for child predators.

    Apple has the 17+ category for a reason. Discord can chose if they want to be 17+ or freely downloaded by anybody and then have to deal with the fallout from having children ending up on NSFW servers or being groomed.

    BULLSH** this is what politics/businesses scream to get their way.

    ANY and EVERY social platform whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tom, Discord, Games, Pinterest, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. can and will have NSFW content. When someone is angry they’ll cry “for the kids!!” to take them down.

    No one actually cares about the kids. It’s about control and money.

    PornHub recently went through this when “commercial”(think non indie) studios complained that the little guys were eating their lunch. So the excuse was “the kids!” Except PornHub is not a distributor of child pornography. If they really cared about the kids they would target deep web and obscure websites.
    This is like pulling small brands from Wal-Mart because drug dealers are smuggling drugs through Wal-Mart shelves and ignoring the urban city streets and alleys. 
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Ofer said:
    First off, I love Apple as a company overall and am fully invested in their ecosystem. I really appreciate their dedication to privacy, the environment, and marginalized folx.

    All that being said, their ridiculously outdated and puritanical views on human sexuality are terrible.
    I'm sure that Apple would get sued (along with Discord) if NSFW content was freely available to minors especially if the devices had parental controls enabled.
    I guess it is a good day when Apple isn't sued at least 10 times.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    ajmasajmas Posts: 573member
    Others have made the point that given that Discord is in many ways simply a transport of content, it should not be treated any differently from Safari. 

    This means Apple should either make Safari 18+ or accept that a generic platform should receive the same rating as Safari. 

    Individual Discord servers can already warn about content rating, which you need to click through before seeing. 
    Ofer
  • Reply 13 of 18
    ajmas said:
    Others have made the point that given that Discord is in many ways simply a transport of content, it should not be treated any differently from Safari. 
    If they wanted to be treated like a web browser they should have released a web browser instead of an app. 
    watto_cobraOfer
  • Reply 14 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,651member
    ajmas said:
    Others have made the point that given that Discord is in many ways simply a transport of content, it should not be treated any differently from Safari. 

    This means Apple should either make Safari 18+ or accept that a generic platform should receive the same rating as Safari. 

    Individual Discord servers can already warn about content rating, which you need to click through before seeing. 
    You can turn on parental controls for Safari. 

    watto_cobraOfer
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Beats said:
    mknelson said:
    Ofer said:
    First off, I love Apple as a company overall and am fully invested in their ecosystem. I really appreciate their dedication to privacy, the environment, and marginalized folx.

    All that being said, their ridiculously outdated and puritanical views on human sexuality are terrible.
    Many of these sites (now defunct Periscope) are havens for child predators.

    Apple has the 17+ category for a reason. Discord can chose if they want to be 17+ or freely downloaded by anybody and then have to deal with the fallout from having children ending up on NSFW servers or being groomed.

    BULLSH** this is what politics/businesses scream to get their way.

    ANY and EVERY social platform whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tom, Discord, Games, Pinterest, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. can and will have NSFW content. When someone is angry they’ll cry “for the kids!!” to take them down.

    No one actually cares about the kids. It’s about control and money.

    PornHub recently went through this when “commercial”(think non indie) studios complained that the little guys were eating their lunch. So the excuse was “the kids!” Except PornHub is not a distributor of child pornography. If they really cared about the kids they would target deep web and obscure websites.
    This is like pulling small brands from Wal-Mart because drug dealers are smuggling drugs through Wal-Mart shelves and ignoring the urban city streets and alleys. 
    This is the most ill-reasoned, poorly-stated, and factually challenged opinion I've read today. And I've read a few. Here's a gold star.

    However, next time it would be great if you at least tried to string a coherent argument together. Alternatively, I'd suggest yelling uninteligably at the TV or something else. Anything else. Please spare folks from having to slog through more of this kind of knee-jerk drivel.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18

    I like how developers get upset about the rule and attempt to outline it as some secretive policy.

    IT'S LITERALLY SECTION 1 ON THE APP STORE GUIDELINES.

    1. SAFETY
    1.1 Objectionable Content
    1.1.4 Overtly sexual or pornographic material

    The fact that Apple as a 3rd party has to come in and remind the service provider about this guideline on a regular basis is not Apple being a bad guy or a "censor" - it's the service provider who is doing less than the minimum to adhere to the rules they voluntarily agreed to. The idea is simple enough, apps need to fit in a rating system, if they can't do that, then they can go the route of websites which have no content filtering.

    The worse part of all of this is that it is utterly trivial to use machine learning to efficiently scan and tag potentially objectionable content as it's uploaded. This approach is so standard that it boggles my mind that there was some fool at tumblr who was doing it by hand based on complaint reports.

    Does anyone remember what kicked off Apple's complaints against Tumblr? Child pornography, lots of it.
    Thank you.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    acejax805acejax805 Posts: 103member
    I'm not sure what the big issue is here. If Discord wants to host and allow access to NSFW channels on their app, their app should be identified appropriately with an age rating. 


    watto_cobrasgordon
  • Reply 18 of 18
    sgordonsgordon Posts: 43member
    Frankly COPPA has 13+ as the cutoff and intend to agree discord is completely unsuitable for younger kids. Causing us lots of problems where kids start to use it
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