Apple has pulled two popular photography apps from the iOS app store, reportedly because the company found it too easy to find nude images — though, notably, not pornographic ones. 500px, whose apps were removed, is resubmitting them with adjustments, but Apple is already being criticized for this seemingly arbitrary policy.
The apps were taken down Tuesday morning, following discussions between 500px and Apple relating to a new version of the app. With nearly a million downloads at the time of the takedown, 500px's main app was a popular way to share photos online — and not not a new one, either. The version Apple removed was functionally much the same as the one approved back in October of 2011.
500px cofounder Evgeny Tchebotarev told TechCrunch that an Apple reviewer rejected their proposed update on the grounds that it let users search for nude photos. In fact, the app defaults to a safe search mode that can only be disabled via the main website.
Furthermore, the nude photos that one might search for are of the art variety, not porn. "We don’t allow pornographic images. If something is purely pornographic, it’s against our terms and it’s deleted," Tchebotarev said.
On Twitter and at various blogs and news websites, Apple came under fire almost immediately. Among others, the company's own Safari Web browser app can be used to find explicit images extremely easily.
It's not the first time Apple has been attacked for what people view as its Puritanical restrictions on apps. Web browsers in the app store are age-restricted because they could be used to find adult material, and the company has also removed what it feels are adult titles from its bookstore, prompting widespread criticism.
Tchebotarev took to Twitter to say that his company is hoping to get its iOS app back online soon, presumably after some Apple-suggested adjustments have been made.
UPDATE 5:21PM: An Apple representative tells GigaOM that there were complaints of child pornography, although the CEO denies this was mentioned to them:
"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."
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.