I’m keeping it light this week as…

…the frustration is palpable.

Avalon Penrose on Twitter:


Let me be clear about this from the get-go: I think Apple’s censorship policies are wrong and they have no grounds to be policing adult content within apps on the app store. Apple’s power to set content policy over apps is absolutely fueled first and foremost by internal policy that goes back to Steve Jobs. After that, they’re beholden to payment processors wanting to distance themselves from porn. Finally, there’s lawmakers and policy that influence them as well. I think these are the 3 things that shape their policy decisions, in order.

This annoys me as well. It’s not content offered by devs, it’s content users choose to share. The modern notion that this equates to editorialising on the dev’s side is, always has been and, I believe, always will be ludicrous, no matter what legislators do in order to pass that hot potato around.

Here’s the kicker: your developer support contact will also, like the reviewer, not be consistent from case to case. They stick with you until your appeal is complete, but when you have to open a new case for a subsequent rejection, it’s someone new. And every one of them had different answers to the same questions about policies regarding adult content.

Such inconsistency is all the more reason for companies to not have a say in this.

I was present for the 2018 app store fiasco and boy, it was mind boggling. The removal was legit since Apple had received a user-submitted report of CSAM, and by policy they immediately yank an app that contains such content. That was 100% understandable, and if I were in Apple’s shoes, I too would remove an app that has CSAM in it. But what followed was a gauntlet of rigorous reviews over adult content in general. The app was rejected repeatedly until the infamous adult content ban was fully enacted.

While Tumblr was actively working on the ban, they were asking Apple for any sort of guidance on what would meet approval, because as you know it’s impossible to scrub a UGC site of adult content. The answers we got were either vague or unhelpful. Tumblr had to just keep re-submitting over and over with a half-baked porn finding algorithm until it finally looked clean enough for Apple.

During this time, we’d be searching Twitter, Instagram, etc, for the same search terms that we were being rejected for, and finding lots and lots of porn. When the rep was asked if other apps went through the same rigamarole that Tumblr was going through, and why they had porn on their apps, the answers we got were “we can’t discuss other apps” (of course) and “that shouldn’t happen”.

Sounds like a great dev support experience.

Outside of adult content, though, the two other big ones that rub iOS devs the wrong way are the 30% cut Apple gets when devs get paid, and the completely arbitrary policy that Apps submitted to the app store must have a “clear purpose”.

The “clear purpose” or “at least pretend you’re doing something specific” isn’t too sinister — I hope — as usually enforced, but it’s purposefully vague, a tool to bludgeon apps and devs with when there’s no better way to do so. “Clear purpose” can’t be clearly defined so it’s never anything specific and can be weaponised in the wrong hands or just cause grief whenever used incorrectly. In my book that’s reason for such a provision to go extinct.

But what do I know?