Some of the million photographers that have taken a keen interest in 500px may be flustered with the app’s sudden disappearance from the iOS App Store this afternoon. Controversial as the reason might be, the app has been pulled against the Toronto startup’s will and Apple is behind the decision.
Nudity, even of the artistic nature, is apparently behind the move. 500px COO Evgency Tchebotarev tells TechCrunch that an update to the app couldn’t be pushed because nude photos were searchable, and thus 500px was pulled from the marketplace altogether. The app was originally launched in October 2011 and approved by Apple, actually had created a mechanism where safe search was on by default and you had to visit the Web app to change this. Apparently, the security measure was found lacking.
Tchebotarev says that the startup was in talks with Apple to update the app so that it would be compliant with Apple’s developer policies. There are a handful of third-party apps that use 500px’s API, such as Flipboard, so the app wanted to try and issue an update to address Apple’s concerns. But no leniencyhere: 500px was suddenly pulled from the App Store with Apple citing the time sensitivity of the issue.
There’s no mistake here that the “nudity” Apple refers to has been corralled into the pornographic category, but artists might take offense to that association. Tchebotarev says the 500px app doesn’t allow pornographic content and there are in fact a few precautionary and preventative measures in place. Of course there’s a difference between porn and artistic nudity, albeit subjective. But should 500px find that the content verges on smut, that content is immediately deleted.
The 500px team has been developing an engine that will be able to recognize nude photos algorithmically. These photos will be tagged accordingly and won’t surface in search. Until such an update is issued, however, it appears 500px is will have to wait for Apple approval.