Apple’s upcoming update to its iPhone and iPad software will remove a controversial setting that blocked any website that mentioned the word “Asian”.
As previously reported by The Independent, Apple’s iOS devices would automatically block all mention of the word under its “limit adult websites” content settings. These settings are designed to help limit screen time, and stop children from accessing websites parents deem them too young to be able to visit, but Apple’s decision was far too restrictive.
It was found that phrases like “Asian food” or “Asian countries” are unable to be searched for while this restriction is active, with even search engines like Google blocked from surfacing results for the word.
“The URL was blocked by a content filter”, an error message instead states.
The message did not come up when searching for the words “black”, “white”, “Arab”, “Korean”, or “French” – other popular racial categories on pornographic websites – nor “schoolgirl”, but is activated when users search for “teen”, “amateur”, and “mature”.
It is unclear why Apple made these restrictions, and the company did not provide more information when questioned by The Independent.
The issue was first spotted by developer Steven Shen. “I think it’s unlikely someone intentionally hard coded this. Probably the result of AI. Similar to how facial recognition has trouble working on people with darker skin tones”, Shen told The Independent at the time.
“Apple’s bug tracking is perhaps quite notorious in the Apple developer community. Most of the feedback we filed seemingly go into a blackhole. I wish they fixed it sooner.”
However, it seems the smartphone giant has now altered its moderation policies. According to Mashable, the new iOS 14.5 Beta reportedly allows users to successfully search for “Asian” terms, even with the filter turned on. The Independent has reached out to Apple for confirmation.
It comes as Apple announced its worldwide developer conference (WWDC) as an online-only event, where the company is expected to launch iOS 15, as well as updates for iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
Alongside software updates, there is the possibility that the event will see updated Mac devices, and potentially Apple’s long-discussed augmented reality glasses.