Apple Removes 500px Photo App From App Store Over Nudity Complaints

A photo-sharing app was removed by Apple after users complained about porn.

ByABC News
January 23, 2013, 1:31 PM

Jan. 23, 2013 — -- 500px, a photo-sharing app and website with over a million users, has been getting a lot of attention over the last 24 hours -- though not for being a new feature or release.

On Monday night Apple pulled the app from its App Store, saying it had pornographic images and that it had even received complaints from people who claimed they had found child pornography in it.

"The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines," Apple's Tom Neumayr said in a statement given to ABC News. "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."

According to 500px's COO, Evgeny Tchebotarev, the company was informed of the removal just a few moments before it was pulled from the store. Apple claimed it was easy for people to search for nude photos in the app. Tchebotarev said that wasn't the case.

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"It wasn't easy to search. It was never the goal to make it easy. Over time, since the launch in 2011, our goal was to make safe browsing as safe as it could be," Tchebotarev told ABC News. Safe browsing or searching, which removed nude photos or other inappropriate images, was turned on by default in the app and for new users, he said. The only way you could disable it was through the settings on 500px's website.

As for whether pornographic images ever appeared, Tchebotarev said, "There is a dictionary definition of pornography. Our Terms of Use explicitly prohibits pornographic images, but artistic nudity is allowed."

Tchebotarev's team has been busy, he said. "We made a fix and it's already been submitted to the store. We think this fix will be sufficient enough for the app to make it back in the store."

The new version of 500px has two main fixes, according to Tchebotarev. The rating has been changed to "mature audiences" and it now has a "nude photo" search block. "When searching for nude photos you would have zero results now," Tchebotarev said.

Apple's removal of the app on Monday highlights one of the main differences between Apple's and Google's Android app stores.

"Apple has always maintained a curated experience," said Michael Gartenberg of the research firm Gartner Inc. "As the store 'owner' it's within their right what items will be stocked on their virtual shelves. It is a different approach than Google's, which also has apps it won't allow but allows anything in and only removes items if there are complaints.

"In the end, users are free to look at whatever content they want on their devices as long as those devices have web browsers," he said, "but Apple's clearly done well curating the app experience as evidenced by strong developer and consumer acceptance."