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Apple Is Cracking Down on NSFW Content Inside Reddit Apps

The app review process has some Reddit app developers scratching their heads.

Nicholas Deleon

Nicholas Deleon

Image: C.P. Storm/Flickr

It may soon be a little harder to browse pornography and other not safe for work (NSFW) content with Reddit on your iPhone.

Apple has begun asking Reddit app developers, including Reddit itself, to remove settings from their apps that allow users to toggle on and off the ability to browse NSFW content inside the app. Several apps were briefly removed from the App Store late on Monday night, with Apple telling developers to re-submit their apps after they removed the NSFW toggle setting.

The NSFW toggle settings are gone from the latest version of Narwhal (right). Screenshot: Nicholas Deleon/Motherboard

Apple's App Store guidelines do not allow apps "that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic." Of course, NSFW content is readily available elsewhere on iOS, including Twitter's official app and browsers like Safari or Chrome, so it's not clear why Reddit developers are being singled out here.

Reddit is now advising app developers to remove all NSFW toggle switches from their apps. Users can still view NSFW content inside these apps, but they'll have to first whitelist NSFW content from their account settings—which can only be changed on the Reddit website. Users can still also view this content on their iOS device using Reddit's mobile website.

Stephen Ceresia, developer of the Reddit app Eggplant, told Motherboard that forcing NSFW content to be entirely enabled or disabled from users' account settings is "terrible usability" because "sometimes users don't want to block all NSFW from Reddit, but want it flagged so it only appears when they choose to see it." In other words, it's much more of a hassle to manually log into your Reddit account every time you want to see NSFW content rather than merely being able to toggle a setting inside the app itself.

"We're clean right now, but that has affected us greatly," Mark Seltenrijch, the marketing manager of Awkward, a Dutch digital design and development agency, told Motherboard. Apple a few weeks ago asked Awkward to remove the NSFW toggles from its own Reddit app, called Beam for Reddit, forcing Awkward to re-submit the app with the necessary fixes. Seltenrijch noted that he wished the app review process, wherein Apple ensures that apps comply with all App Store guidelines, was more transparent. "In my opinion, the discussion should be more about Apple's guidelines and the grey area that surrounds it," he said.

Apple did not immediately respond to Motherboard's request for comment on why it's only just now beginning to enforce the NSFW guidelines for Reddit apps.