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iNanny: Apple Takes Down Popular Photo Apps Because They Made Searching For Nude Photos 'Too Easy'

from the paying-for-the-privilege-of-being-treated-like-a-child dept

We've written here before about Apple's autocratic control of its app store, which has resulted in many questionable removals. To date, Apple has blocked a dictionary (because it contained profanity), a Project Gutenberg scan of The Kama Sutra (ancient sexytime), any app that connects to Dropbox (because... Dropbox?), an educational game based on the current war in Syria (too topical?), a DUI checkpoint location app (political pressure), an app that allowed a mute 4-year-old girl to communicate with her parents (patents!), as well as many apps that were potentially competitive with its home-grown software.

Now, Apple has pulled apps related to the 500px photography network, citing the "easy" availability of nude photos.
Apple has pulled the apps from photography network 500px from its App Store because, after 16 months of use, their clearly marked nude photo galleries suddenly became intolerable.

In addition for 500px's own app, the third-party 500px app ISO500, whose parent company 500px acquired because of ISO500's excellent integration, has also received notice that its app will be removed from the App Store shortly - for the same reason.
500px was notified by Apple that its software update made it "too easy" to find nude images via the integrated search. Initially, Apple said the app wouldn't be pulled but reverted to an earlier version. An hour later, it apparently decided that potentially searchable nudes was too much of a threat to its walled ecosystem and yanked the apps entirely. This seems a little harsh, considering the precautions taken by the software.
Just as it has the whole time, the app defaults to a Safe Search mode that excludes nudity, and you have to log in on the desktop version to change that.
Apple has responded to the strange and sudden removal of 500px's software with the following statement:
The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines. We also received customer complaints about possible child pornography. We've asked the developer to put safeguards in place to prevent pornographic images and material in their app.
Child pornography accusations notwithstanding (back to that in a moment), Apple's stance on nudity (or "pornography," as it prefers to term it) in its "curated" apps is ridiculous. 500px took steps to prevent just anybody from picking up the app and loading up on explicit images. But whether or not 500px made access to explicit images easier ultimately makes no difference. If it's nudity Apple wants to be rid of, it's going to need to shut down a whole lot of software.
But here's the thing: Flipboard integrates completely with 500px as well. Everything you can do on 500px's app, you can do on Flipboard. Is Apple going to pull Flipboard as well? What about Tumblr, Instagram and all browsers - including Apple's own Safari? You can get to nude images with them pretty easily, too.
And the child pornography concerns? 500px claims it was never informed about any alleged child porn -- not by Apple and not by its users.
Tchebotarev has responded to us, saying that 500px was not told about the child pornography complaints and that Apple had not mentioned any issues around nudity until a phone call yesterday. "We've never ever, since the beginning of the company, received a single complaint about child pornography. If something like that ever happened, it would be reported right away to enforcement agencies."
Apple is prone to overreaction when apps are criticized or accused of possible moral/legal issues (see opening paragraph). Rather than contact 500px and have them investigate the offending account(s)/images, it simply dumped the app. On top of that, it didn't even bother to tell the involved parties about this accusation. Apparently, developers should just find articles involving their embattled software and hit F5 until Apple's official explanation is appended to the post.

Yes, child pornography is serious and should be dealt with expediently, but knocking apps out of the market without verified claims is ridiculous. As was pointed out, if a user wants to access child porn, he's got plenty of options, all contained within Apple's approved apps, including its own software. It's a shoot-first approach that does a lot of damage to its relationships with its developers -- but the collateral damage is apparently acceptable.

Apple's arbitrary decisions on apps like this and the ones listed above make it harder and harder to respect its position as a self-appointed moral guardian of all things i-related. Its lack of communication and questionable tactics seem to be the unfortunate byproduct of its position as the most desirable market.

Personally, I'm glad I have an Android. As an adult, I prefer to be given the options befitting an adult, rather than have my software choices limited by a corporation's belief that I shouldn't be trusted with anything "mature" on the off chance that a child might access it. The Android marketplace is full of questionable apps, malware and outright sleaze, but at least it assumes I can make my own decisions on what sort of content I want to view or interact with, rather than pre-screen everything like a helicopter parent rummaging through the Halloween "take," looking for anything with loose wrappers or heavily processed sugars.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Apple can go sodomize themselves with a retractable moral baton. I'm no fanboy of Google but their work with the Android is simply way better. And if you don't like Play Store you can simply download the apks and run in your mobile. More advanced apps may need root which is insanely easy to do on most recent phones (I recently rooted a Galaxy S, was a thrilling experience but in the end it was dumb easy).

    People are slowly turning away from the overpriced apple hype. Which is a good thing. Google won't be the only player in the market simply because the system is open and the mods and 3rd party apps are all over the place. Win.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Oh no, how will I ever find pictures of nudity now?!?

    Oh, right, the PC, and any other device with a connection to the Internet!

    Oh no, if what will happen once Apple realizes the same thing! Will they remove any Internet apps from the iPhone to?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:01am

    Apple is vying to become the Disney of tech :)

     

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  4.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    So... Will Disney sue Apple for Copyright Infringement or will Apple sue Disney for Patent Infringement?

     

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  5.  
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    Lord Binky, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Obviously Apple and the software is develops are inherently morally superior such that they can safely censor everyone from possible explicit and pornographic content without being corrupted unlike the less beings that are its users.

    Fear not, for only virtuous content can be accessed by Apple's products, and by definition anything access by Apples products is therefore virtuous

     

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  6.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:09am

    The Android marketplace is full of questionable apps, malware and outright sleaze

    [Runs out to get an Android phone]

     

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  7.  
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    Greg (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:12am

    Apple wants the search for pr0n to be challenging. They know that the payoff for finding it is so much better that way. Easy pr0n is just so dissatisfying. This is public service! Thanks Apple!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:20am

    What with Apple censoring, and UK mobile censoring, the iphone should be suitable for rich kids whose parents wish to shelter them from the realities of life, unless of course the censoring lets through the wrong flavour of religion.

     

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  9.  
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    DogBreath, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re:

    Disney will sue Apple for trademark infringement because as anyone can clearly see, the Apple logo was stolen from Disney. The "Apple" logo has a single bite out of it, so it must be the poisonous apple that the wicked Queen gave to Snow White.

    Man, I'm surprised Disney's legal office never saw that one before.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Apple like to have the control, just like the entertainment industries. that's what it 's all about. they dont give a second thought for whether there might be porn there somewhere. as for taking the option of what an adult can or cannot use away from them, that's wrong! if parents are worried about children accessing inappropriate apps, dont give them an iphone!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    >Oh no, how will I ever find pictures of nudity now?!?

    Apple's Safari Pornography browser will find all the nekkid ladies you care to see.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Helicopter parents are the worst. Those kids always end up fucked up sooner or later...

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    Then they need to ask Blockbuster how well that worked out in their fight with Netflix.

     

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  14.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Ahh, good old Apple.

    I grew up in a house that always had a PC. The reason being? Well my father worked as an engineer for a computer company in the 80s. As he put it, "Macintosh assumes you are stupid, sense I'm not stupid I don't like them."

    So pretty much this is just continuation of their stand point from the beginning. Apple just assumes their users are brain dead idiots and treats them as such. (And having now spent a couple years working with die hard Apple cultist... I can see why they assume their users are stupid)

     

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  15.  
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    DogBreath, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    A freebie for the Disney lawyers, here is all the proof you need (or will require) to start suing:

    http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=snow+white+apple+decal


    Now, cry havoc! and let slip the dogs of lawsuits, that this foul deed shall smell above the courtroom with machinations, groaning for out-of-court settlements.

     

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  16.  
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    Digitari, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re:

    Of course Apple can tell you what to do, they "always" make a profit. So why should they care what a "customer" wants they will give you what they feel is good for you. cause you will buy it any ways right?????


    OH wait....

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-22/apple-may-face-first-profit-drop-in-decade-as-i phone-slows-tech.html

    Maybe the apple is showing some wormy rot..........

     

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  17.  
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    Rekrul, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re:

    I grew up in a house that always had a PC. The reason being? Well my father worked as an engineer for a computer company in the 80s. As he put it, "Macintosh assumes you are stupid, sense I'm not stupid I don't like them."

    That statement would carry a lot more weight if you had used the correct word... ;)

     

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  18.  
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    Rekrul, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Yes, child pornography is serious and should be dealt with expediently, but knocking apps out of the market without verified claims is ridiculous.

    Most likely, someone posted a photo of toddlers in a bathtub, because as we all know, nudity = porn!

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymouse, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:04am

    If I post a pic of my toddlers in a tub playing to share with friends and family because they're being cute, and you assume it's pr0n, who here actually has the 'problem'.

    I think I have come to the conclusion the world would be a much nicer place to live if it wasn't for all these people.

     

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  20.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:10am

    I will never buy an Apple Product and will happily use other Products.And as far as a home rig I will always take the time to design and build my own Machine.Not only will it run faster than an Apple but it will also Cost less then half the money.
    I am not amazed at all when it comes to thinking about the Stupidity of the Masses.All running to buy their Ipoop and paying money to go on their App (CENSORED) Shop.

     

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  21.  
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    Khurt Williams, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Porn

    We are not talking about naked photos or people or children. Apple used the word "pornography" which has a specific legal meaning. Sexuals acts have to be involved.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Are_photos_of_nude_children_illegal_to_have

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:28am

    And yet they allow apps that help you cheat at games.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:44am

    I'd just like to state one thing, I have an Android phone (and tablet), and to that end, as a well informed Android aficionado, we need to stop perpetuating the myth that the Play Store is just loaded with malware apps around every corner.

    THIS IS NOT TRUE.

    Yes, there are some. But the amount is quite limited. Apps that Google is alerted to by users that are malware are quickly removed. In addition to this, Google has created various scans and methods to prevent the installation of malicious applications to Android devices. Of course, it is up to the end user to choose or not choose to make use of some of Google's more prominent safety features.

    A notable one being that you are unable to install anything by default, in order to install apps that aren't directly coming from the Play Store, you must first check a setting under Security. At which point it becomes "you're an adult, you have turned on "allow the installation of unknown apps", proceed at your own risk". As for curating the Play Store, they have known malware blacklists and remove apps that confirm to said lists, as well as remove apps that users alert them to as being malware.


    Here's a few links that are worth reading on about Android and Malware. I leave them here for the inevitable Wally comment saying, "Android is BAD GUYZ! Apple PROTECTZ US! WALLED GARDEN FTW!" Another person intent on perpetuating already debunked myths and spreading additional falsehoods presented by someone ignorant of the majority of the facts.

    http://www.androidcentral.com/fbi-issues-android-malware-warning-forgets-how-apps-work

    http://www.androidcentral.com/android-malware-scare-may-have-been-premature

    http://www.androidcen tral.com/new-malware-appearing-dodgy-apps-you-shouldnt-be-downloading-anyway

    There's a more recent article that I'd love to link to on all this, as soon as I find it I'll post a link.

     

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  24.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re:

    Damn Androids Speech to text! I bet Siri would have gotten it right.

    You say he didn't send this from his phone?

    Damn Dragon Naturally speaking!

    What? You say he actually typed it out by hand?

    Damn auto-correct.

    ;^)

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:53am

    The end is nigh

    The TRS-80 was once the most popular personal computer. However; they were a walled garden, you could only use Radio Shack hardware and software on it. It lost out because this open computer called the Apple IIe allowed, nay encourged third party hardware and software. The IBM PC which was a semi-walled garden (they had a Gate(s)) finally killed it. Of course other computer makers keep the Gate(s), demolished the walls and iBM no longer makes PCs.

    i stayed with Apple thru the dark days and convinced people it was a viable company and to buy their computers. The last few years have made more and more disappointed with Apple and its walled garden it is building. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, Mr. Cook tear down that wall.

     

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  26.  
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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re: Porn

    Apple or anyone else using the word does not make it a fact. People use the word incorrectly all the time, due to ignorance or agenda. And Apple isn't ignorant, at least not in the accidental sense.

    Have you ever seen what people claim as pornography in web-filters? It's insane.

     

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  27.  
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    Adrian Lopez, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Apple users often bring up malware as the reason why Apple's "walled garden" is necessary, but this is bullshit. Apple's platforms do indeed have less malware, but that doesn't mean the platform is more secure. Any platform that allows user-space programs to cause serious damage is insecure by definition, regardless of whatever screening process is in place.

    All it takes is for one malicious app to sneak through to cause serious damage. The right approach therefore is not to build closed platforms, but to build secure ones.

     

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  28.  
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    anonymous dutch coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 11:59am

    overreacting

    is overreacting not a normal part of the american psyche?

     

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  29.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Re:

    " we need to stop perpetuating the myth that the Play Store is just loaded with malware apps around every corner.

    THIS IS NOT TRUE."


    But. But.. But...

    If it isn't true why will people go out and spend all that money on an iPhone? They have to have a reason and the best reason in the world is...

    ... For the children!

    The truth is the Android platform is pretty safe, unless you root your phone or tablet (I have), or turn off the Security features (I have) or download questionable apps from unknown sources (I have not). I have never had a problem and I have hundreds of apps, but I don't download every single thing I see either. In fact I have never seen an Android phone that was infected and I manage around 150 android devices.

     

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  30.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, it probably would. Lucky for me I have never claimed to be good at English and being knowledgeable about computers does not require being good at English.

     

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  31.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Re: The Android marketplace is full of questionable apps, malware and outright sleaze

    "Google Play Store. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

     

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  32.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    > Apple just assumes their users are brain dead idiots and treats them
    > as such. (And having now spent a couple years working with die hard
    > Apple cultist... I can see why they assume their users are stupid)


    You are assuming that Apple is assuming.

    During early development of Lisa and Macintosh, Apple would bring people in to observe their interactions with computers to be sure Apple understood their potential customers. For those too young to remember, you can read about it.

     

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  33.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Porn

    um, except people HAVE been persecuted (you read that right) for 'innocent' nekkid baby pix...
    while there may be a logical if not legal difference, when a high-and-mighty persecutor decides to go after you, you are toast...

    IF The They (tm) want your hide nailed to the wall, it don't matter *what* the 'evidence'/pix are, you are going to be screwed... besides, who *EVER* SEES -out of the general public- WHAT 'evidence'/porn pix are being claimed in the media ? ? ? no one, the DA can say ANY-fucking-THING they want, and there is no effective way to fight back or dispute their claims...

    in fact, EVERYONE in my family is a potential 'child pornographer': i know they have nekkid baby pictures of my sisters and me ! ! !

    surely, that is the cause of the downfall of western civilization...
    (pay no attention to that bankster behind the curtain...)

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  34.  
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    Rekrul, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Porn

    Take note of this sentence from the end of the third paragraph;

    "Notwithstanding the popularity of these factors, the U.S. Supreme Court has also stated that even fully clothed images of children may constitute child pornography as well. "

    That doesn't necessarily mean fully clothed children doing something sexual. I seem to recall a case where a guy was convicted of creating and possessing child porn because he took his video camera to the park and filmed young children playing. True, he focused on their lower regions a lot, but those kids weren't doing anything sexual, they were just running around playing and the court ruled that it was child pornography.

    There was also a case where a mother was charged with creation of child porn and child abuse because she painted a portrait of her young daughter, sitting on a stool, wearing a fancy dress with her hands in her lap. How did this qualify as child porn? Some uptight idiot said that it looked like the girl was masturbating...

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: The Android marketplace is full of questionable apps, malware and outright sleaze

    "My name is Apple iPhone 5. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 2:31pm

    Re:

    Maybe they posted a finger and a thumb rubbing a testicle...which gives a whole new meaning to thumbnails.

     

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  37.  
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    JMT (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    "And as far as a home rig I will always take the time to design and build my own Machine.Not only will it run faster than an Apple but it will also Cost less then half the money.

    Did you also build your own car because it'd be faster and cheaper than a Ford? Did you build your own house too? Did you build the furniture in it? Did you knock up a big LCD TV from parts bought the local electronics shop? No?! You mean you can't do all things things?

    Congrats on being one of a very small percentage of people who can (or even want to) build your own computer. I'm happy for you that you can take advantage of that knowledge to your benefit. However your criticism of Apple is fairly meaningless because you represent such a tiny piece of the home computer market. Most people want something that works straight out of the box and keeps working for a long time. Years of customer satisfaction surveys show Apple (usually) does that better than any other computer manufacturer. Whatever you think of their business practices (and some are pretty crap), the 'I can build a better one' argument is simply irrelevant to most.

     

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  38.  
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    Disgusted, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:39pm

    Re: overreacting

    Yes. Overreacting to the point of self destruction has become the American norm. This includes the Government.

     

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  39.  
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    JMT (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Re:

    Oops, HTML fail...

     

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  40.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Hey what about us who are old enough that we can't remember ;)

    I blame it on all the 1200/75bps naked photos we used to download via xModem.. those were the days.. the anticipation of boobies 1 line at a time..

    and ANSI porn... oooooooo ANSI porn!

    *hobbles away grumbling about kids and lawns*

     

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  41.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Porn

    no matter what you would think sexual acts DO NOT have to be involved for something to be deemed pornographic.

    All it needs is if the image(s) taken as a whole appeal to the prurient interest in sex (This comes from the US Supreme Court decision in Miller if anyone is interested).

     

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  42.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Wouldn't rooting your phone be itself pornographic?

    /joke

     

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  43.  
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    techflaws (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:50pm

    And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984.

    Oh, wait...

     

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  44.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, I remember when ANSI pr0n wasn't even animated. You had to print it on a line printer that had "control characters" in the first column. Remember those?

    So three lines of text, where the first line had a blank for the CC, and the 2nd two lines had a + for the CC would overstrike the first line before the printer advanced to another row on the paper. Basically, your text file had three times as many lines as the printed output would have. But boy what levels of greyscale could be achieved, with each "pixel" being a character on the 132 column line printer.

    Since tractor feed paper went through these line printers (not dot-matrix printers) you could basically print a poster two pages wide and scotch tape them together into a large wall poster.

     

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  45.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Shades of Green/Amber monitors!!! I remember that, though the printer stuff was ASCII art and in my opinion was harder to do since you had no fandangled program like TheDraw running under DrDos on an EGA monitor. (I did when I ran my BBS and used to spend hrs designing screens)

    Though I also remember the tiny ascii art that came into vogue with fidonet signatures and then usenet, and even that period when it was freakin all over IRC

    (\__/)
    (='.'=) This is Evil Bunny. Copy and paste evil bunny into
    (")_(") your sig to help him gain world domination.

    Dude... we're old ;)

     

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  46.  
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    Niall (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you also try to hand-craft your HTML instead of relying on a program to write it for you...? :) Congrats on being one of a very small percentage of people who can (or even want to) code your own HTML...

     

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  47.  
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    Danny (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    "I know it when I see it"

    Specific legal meaning:

    "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description "hard-core pornography"; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But **I know it when I see it**, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.""
    óJustice Potter Stewart,†concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers.
    [cut and pasted from Wikipedia, emphasis added]

    So, if the definition of pornography is "I know it when I see it", then Apple's App Store decisions are always tautologically consistent. Q.E.D.

     

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  48.  
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    Danny (profile), Jan 27th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    "I know it when I see it"

    Specific legal meaning:

    "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description "hard-core pornography"; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But **I know it when I see it**, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.""
    óJustice Potter Stewart,†concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers.
    [cut and pasted from Wikipedia, emphasis added]

    So, if the definition of pornography is "I know it when I see it", then Apple's App Store decisions are always tautologically consistent. Q.E.D.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    perla banda, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 6:57pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:32am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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