Apple has a well documented history of banning everything that has anything to do with pornography, even if it’s only remotely related. It’s nice that Apple wants to keep the App Store clean, but their obsession with eliminating porn from computing has a lot of collateral damage.
In its latest push to get porn off your computer, Apple now deletes all iCloud emails that contain the phrase ‘barely legal teens.’ It doesn’t send the messages to spam, or flag them, it just straight up deletes them, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
It sounds like Apple’s just trying to help you avoid child pornography, but the iCloud censorship was actually discovered by an Academy Award -winning screenwriter named Steven G., who has nothing to do with child porn.
Steven G. wrote to InfoWorld that his software was trying to send a script to a director by emailing it from an iCloud account. The director never got the script, so Steven sent it multiple times as he tried to figure out why the email was getting blocked.
Eventually, Steven started cutting the script down into pieces to see which sections of the attached script were getting flagged and blocked.
“AND THEN I SAW IT — a line in the script, describing a character viewing an advertisement for a pornographic site on his computer screen. Upon modifying this line, the entire document was delivered with no problem.”
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Steven took his testing even farther. He created a PDF containing the line: “All my children are barely legal teens — why would I want to let them drive by themselves?” And yep, Apple’s servers sent the attachment straight to hell. Then he just typed that phrase in a regular email and it was blocked too.
After more research, Steven found that under the iCloud terms of service, Apple reserves the right to remove any content at any time that it feels is objectionable, without telling you that they’re going to delete it. Apparently, ‘barely legal teens’ falls into that ‘objectionable content’ category, along with other phrases we’re probably not aware of.
Apple was asked to confirm whether it’s actively scanning files in iCloud and deleting them if they have keyword phrases like “barely legal,” but they haven’t responded.
Is Apple overstepping its bounds here, or did Steven miss something else that might have caused the emails to get deleted? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments.
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