Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple's Latest Move: Want porn? There's an app for that!

Apple Logo

After denying Christian group an app, Playboy gets accepted

You might think Apple's actions over the last couple months have been deliberately offensive. Yesterday, Hugh Hefner announced via Twitter that issues of Playboy will be available on the iPad starting in March. Adding insult to injury, Apple denied a pro-marriage app just last month.

WASHINGTON DC (Catholic Online) - You might think Apple's actions over the last couple months have been deliberately offensive. Yesterday, Hugh Hefner announced via Twitter that issues of Playboy will be available on the iPad starting in March.

This is a deviation from Apple's previous policy of removing software from their app store that is deemed "overtly sexual." Apple never considered the policy to be set-in-stone, though they have shown rare exception until this point.

Assuming the reports are true, this is perhaps the most significant editorial decision of Apple's app-life. While pornography is available through the internet on any computer, tablets till now have experienced a much different existence. The application vetting process of Apple is fairly stringent. Both technical capabilities and content are carefully considered before an application is accepted or rejected.

From the iPad's birth, Apple loosened the reigns more and more on what was permissible in their store. Occasionally, specific applications were rejected because of a public outcry or the potential for a public relations scuffle.

Lately, things have changed with Apple's vetting process. It has become increasingly sensitive to the far left of American society. Over Thanksgiving of last year, a petition by a pro-homosexual "marriage" group with 7,700 signatures reached the steps of Apple effecting a prompt removal of the Manhattan Declarations application. One of the principles of that Manhattan Declaration is the promotion of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The basis for the removal of the app was that it was potentially "offensive to large groups of people" and after a revised application was submitted, Apple said, "the apps' content is considered 'likely to expose a group to harm' and 'to be objectionable and potentially harmful to others.'"

Since Apple was persuaded by 7,700 petitioners, the Manhattan Declaration started its own petition and to-date has garnered 61,455 petitioners. Apple has not responded to the Manhattan Declaration petition.

Many Christians responded to Apple's removal of the Manhattan Declaration app from the iTunes by boycotting Apple products. Whether or not boycotts are effective is debatable. But now Christians have a separate and less debatable reason to reconsider purchasing Apple products.

Tablets are marketed for their convenience and portability. Parents should hesitate in purchasing a tablet for their children, especially if they might be accidentally exposed to pornography. The portability of tablets makes it increasingly difficult for parents to know exactly what their children are exposed to on the internet. If parents should consider tablets as gifts for their children, they might consider tablets prohibiting pornographic material, as best as they can.

While this risk of accidental exposure to pornography is evident with computers of any sort, the mobility of tablets will likely make parents concerned about what their children have access to when they aren't supervised.

The obvious questions loom: what gives? Is Apple overly committed to advancing a liberal, anti-Christian agenda? Why has Apple dismissed principles of civil discourse and decency so abruptly lately? Is the denying of a Christian application and the alleged acceptance of a pornographic application a calculated move and message to the American public?

Organizations with as much power and money as Apple rarely make decisions like this without specific intent. They are an established brand, but they are also building a new brand. If Apple permits pornography on their tablets, just after slapping a Christian pro-marriage organization in the face, Christians should pause and consider what they are contributing to when they purchase Apple products.


Billy Atwell contributes to Catholic Online, and blogs for The Point and the Manhattan Declaration. As a young lay Catholic and two-time cancer survivor he offers commentary on faith, culture, and politics. You can find all of his writings at For the Greater Glory.