The photo sharing app 500px has been pulled from the Apple App Store. The reason for this appears to be because the app hosted nude photographic images. These are not pornographic images but artistic nude portraits. The app is still running on android.
500px is a good app for photographers who want a place to share their photography in a more professional community. It is not like Instagram or Flikr, members post images that have 500px on the longest side and share them with the community. Although I have an account I have never used it really, mainly because I have not had the time to investigate it deeply and see how I would benefit from its use. Apps are great but they need to have a benefit to you. How many apps have you downloaded, just to be deleted a few weeks later.
Since 500px has a more professional environment there are nude images of men and women, there is also a feature not to see these images, if you don’t want to. The safe browsing option can be turned on and off was confirmed by 500px COO Evgeny Tchebotarev. Tchebotarev has also said that there are no pornographic images on the app, only artistic nudes. The safe search option is a default setting with a user needing to log into their account on a computer to turn it off.
Apple has said that the ability to see nude images means that the app has broken the App Store agreement. 500px was pulled while going through the approval process for an update for the app. The update was for an improved tagging system that would make it easier to identify and tag nude images and therefore make it more difficult for them to be found.
It is strange that Apple has taken this step to remove a highly popular app from its store. Apple wants to be the product of creative people. I feel in removing an app where creative people can interact seems counterintuitive. I also feel like this is Apples own form of censorship, they did this before with the Playboy app. Playboy worked around the app by using a digital subscription method with people accessing the magazine through Apples own Safari web browser. How can apple say that 500px cannot be on the app store, when on their own browser you can look at images that would make you shatter your IPhone in disgust.
I work a lot with young people and I believe we should protect them from such images until they are mature enough to understand them, though the default setting of the app is a safe search mode and to turn it off would require more than one click.
Is this also a double standard since the Flickr app is also available on Apples app store, with nude images readily available and easier to find than on the 500px app.
There seems to be resurgence in the debate about nudity in photography and especially in the use of mobile photography.
Daniel Arnold a prolific Instagrammer back in July 2012 had his account closed and was kicked off the site. Daniel is a talented Iphoneographer who captured the streets of New York and shared them directly to Instagram. Daniel said he was drawn to using Instagram because of “the whole phenomenon of privacy happening in public.”
It was a picture he snapped of two women sunbathing topless at Queens Fort, Tilden beach. The image is completely non sexual, but it became a viral image and his account became flagged and then banned. He now has a new account Arnold_Daniel but it is set to private.
I have found the questions about nudity in photography quite interesting ever since I went to a Mapplethrope exhibition and had to prove my age to see one area of the exhibition. Although his images at times are of a homoerotic nature there is an immense beauty in the images as well as a poetic meaning in the print. On the other had I can walk about the national galleries and look at paintings of nudes like “Leda and the Swan” and this is completely acceptable because it is art. A photographic image is seen as reality, or a true representation of reality, where as a nude painting or drawing is seen maybe more as an examination of form. Yet, why can’t a photograph be seen as an examination of form. Have we become as a culture too prudish? Do we see all nudes as pornography?
When you add in the fact that these images are being shared on sites or apps, what are people afraid of? That someone maybe looking at this image or that we can view this image in private on a mobile device.
I can understand that sites like Instagram, that don’t have a safe search option as well as wanting to be a place where everyone can share their work does have strict rules about nudity. On the other hand 500px is a place more for serious amateurs and professionals; Instagram is Facebook where your status is your photo.
Should it be the place for Apple to censor apps it allows people to download?
I would say no.
I think it should be the job of Apple to make is possible to hide certain apps it believes are unsuitable for younger people (maybe by using an age restriction system or allow an app to be downloaded with parent’s agreement).
There are things that app stores can do to change the way they work. In my classes I would say most of my pupils have a smartphone and all download apps. Should a app store censor outright or find a way for adults and young people to use the store and at the same time protect people from apps that they should not or don’t want to use.
I feel that Apple has committed a faux pa, and maybe has sent another group looking for an alternative.
Do you have any opinions on what Apple has done. Let me know using the comment section below.