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Apple Is Letting Over 150 Countries Censor LGBTQ+ Content In The App Store

Summary

According to researchers from the activist group Fight for the Future amongst others, LGBTQIA+ related apps are unavailable in 152 app stores internationally. Saudi Arabia and China top the lists, but even countries such as France and the United Kingdom have blocked some apps. The apps include a wide range of categories; from explicitly gay dating apps such as Grindr to dating sims such as Lovestruck, social media apps like weBelong (targeted at teenagers to find others like them) and LGBTQIA+ news apps such as Edge. According to an Apple spokesperson a significant share of these apps were not made available in those countries by the developers. However Apple explicitly did not deny blocking them at the request of local governments.

 

Beyond the seriousness of the censorship itself, the matter is made worse by Apple making it all but impossible to install apps outside of the App store. Apps such as the ones mentioned create a safe space where especially younger LGBTQIA+ members can feel safe to explore their identity and preferences. If Apple were to allow third party app installs its compliance with oppressive governments would be much less damning.


 

Quote

 

A group of tech researchers and activists has released a new report that says that many LGBTQ+ apps are available in some countries but not others; they have identified LGBTQ+ apps that are not available in 152 different countries.

In a statement about their findings, the digital rights group Fight for the Future said that over 50 LGBTQ+ apps have been made unavailable in the App Stores internationally. This isn't limited to apps like Grindr or other explicitly gay dating apps—OkCupid and Hinge have also been censored in 26 and 135 countries, respectively. Even some games are included in this list, like the dating sim Lovestruck: Choose Your Romance, which isn't available in China's App Store. 

 

Quote

A spokesperson for Apple told Motherboard that in many cases the developers of the app themselves have opted to not make an app available in specific countries. In China specifically, Apple says that it has removed none of the apps (the app developers themselves have, Apple said), and said that Scruff, a dating app for men seeking other men, is available in China. An Apple spokesperson told Motherboard that four of the apps of the 61 Fight for the Future monitored were removed from a country’s App Store for specific legal reasons.

Quote

 

"Apple is plastering rainbow flags across their marketing operation in the U.S., but in the meantime they are actively helping governments around the world isolate, silence, and oppress LGBTQ+ people," Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, said in the group's statement. "Apple’s draconian App Store monopoly–especially its decision to prevent users from installing apps from the open web to maintain control and profits–makes this discrimination and censorship possible."

Fight for the Future went on to say that beyond just censorship, LGBTQ+ people use these apps to find safe communities in countries where they have few legal protections. And while Apple may believe that this is just the cost of doing business in countries that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, the company's  policies make this censorship possible—especially its long-standing practice of not allowing people to download and install apps from outside the App Store.

 

 

My thoughts

Most companies changing their logos to Pride ones and supposedly supporting the LGTBQIA+ community tend to do it just because it's good marketing, when a company however actively participates in the oppression and silencing of members of the community they reach a new low of hypocricy. While Apple may hide behind compliance with local laws, it would not be the first company to take a moral stand on a human rights matter. Furthermore, the lack of access to these apps denies local people the ability to organize effectively and renders Apple complicit in their continued persecution. I am a member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself, and it was the ability to access online communities such as those blocked that even allowed me to discover my identity as it allowed me to assign labels to feelings I felt but could not explain.

 

This also adds a new angle to the whole App Store dispute beyond just financial and legal ones, as now there are also moral reasons to allow a third party App Store or third party installs in general. Not doing so denies people in 152 countries the ability to properly express themselves in a way we often take for granted where most of us live.

 

Sources

https://www.vice.com/en/article/4avng9/apple-is-letting-over-150-countries-censor-lgbtq-content-in-the-app-store

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Back In My Day™ we had an Internet where any nerd could spin up a server on an old PII in their closet and post what ever they wanted on the internet.  You could host your own game servers, host your own IRC servers to chat, host your own webservers for your badly photoshopped Star Trek/X-Men fanfic series. Now we're here in the year 2021 where the internet is increasingly dominated by a small number of mega sized corporations and they control so much that the ultimately control much of the very ecosystems we use and what we can and can't do on a range of devices.  We're at the point that they can nearly erase access to anything should a nation they want to make money off of not like it.  Sure for a minority of hardcore users their are work arounds, but these workarounds are increasingly inaccessible to people on what are ubiquitous every day computing devices.

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9 minutes ago, CerealExperimentsLain said:

Back In My Day™ we had an Internet where any nerd could spin up a server on an old PII in their closet and post what ever they wanted on the internet.  You could host your own game servers, host your own IRC servers to chat, host your own webservers for your badly photoshopped Star Trek/X-Men fanfic series. Now we're here in the year 2021 where the internet is increasingly dominated by a small number of mega sized corporations and they control so much that the ultimately control much of the very ecosystems we use and what we can and can't do on a range of devices.  We're at the point that they can nearly erase access to anything should a nation they want to make money off of not like it.  Sure for a minority of hardcore users their are work arounds, but these workarounds are increasingly inaccessible to people on what are ubiquitous every day computing devices.

Definitely, I remember those good old days. And heck, all of that is still possible. But good luck getting even more than 1% of modern internet users to spend the little effort to learn how to use them.

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1 minute ago, Centurius said:

Definitely, I remember those good old days. And heck, all of that is still possible. But good luck getting even more than 1% of modern internet users to spend the little effort to learn how to use them.

Cause now it's 'Easy'.  You start a 'Discord Server' but it's not a server, it's not yours, it's someone elses, spun up as an instance on their own servers, and they just let you use them.  They can kick you off any time they want.  Or block iOS from allowing your server's 'NSFW' channels to be seen.  But it's so easy, they do all the leg work, so we hand over all the control to get that 'ease of use'.

 

And yeah, then you have Apple blocking certain apps by region on the behest of the government.

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10 minutes ago, Centurius said:

LGBTQIA+

Stupid name,I have nothing against them but it's really a stupid name,What's next? - LGBTQIASPBOK++++++++

I just call it LGBT,the pollitically correct knows how to ruin stuff 😄

9 minutes ago, CerealExperimentsLain said:

Back In My Day™ we had an Internet where any nerd could spin up a server on an old PII in their closet and post what ever they wanted on the internet.  You could host your own game servers, host your own IRC servers to chat, host your own webservers for your badly photoshopped Star Trek/X-Men fanfic series. Now we're here in the year 2021 where the internet is increasingly dominated by a small number of mega sized corporations and they control so much that the ultimately control much of the very ecosystems we use and what we can and can't do on a range of devices.  We're at the point that they can nearly erase access to anything should a nation they want to make money off of not like it.  Sure for a minority of hardcore users their are work arounds, but these workarounds are increasingly inaccessible to people on what are ubiquitous every day computing devices.

True,and i fight for a free and privacy friendly internet.

15 years ago we had blogs and chats instead of social media,private servers instead of proprietary servers and we had privacy.

I am a member in a community that develops private servers for popular games.

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If you want tips go to the website of the EFF,they are good guys who fight for our privacy,

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2 minutes ago, Vishera said:

Stupid name

Not our fault that asexuality and intersex picked up steam.

 

4 minutes ago, CerealExperimentsLain said:

Cause now it's 'Easy'.  You start a 'Discord Server' but it's not a server, it's not yours, it's someone elses, spun up as an instance on their own servers, and they just let you use them.  They can kick you off any time they want.  Or block iOS from allowing your server's 'NSFW' channels to be seen.  But it's so easy, they do all the leg work, so we hand over all the control to get that 'ease of use'.

Honestly self hosting open source communication apps should be more and more popular and should be an option. Its basically the same ease of making a discord server and all you need is a hunk of PC that can run it.

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Such a shame for a company with a gay CEO with rainbow Apple watch bands and faces and pride wallpaper. It also found out that the privacy features in iOS 15 will be reduced in China.

 

Basically, Apple bent over in submission to the will of these homophobic countries like an orgy in a penthouse. Bottoms up hunty! :old-tongue:

 

I think there are ways to bypass this without jailbreaking but that will include having a US address and a phone number.

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1 minute ago, Vishera said:

Stupid name,I have nothing against them but it's really a stupid name,What's next? - LGBTQIASPBOK++++++++

I just call it LGBT,the pollitically correct knows how to ruin stuff 😄

Nothing to do with being politically correct. LGBT is not all-encompassing for the community. In fact it should be larger than LGBTQIA+ but that one at least comes closest to covering most of the community. LGBT is just Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. Essentially still fully stuck in the two genders narrative. LGBTQIA+ adds queer, intersex and asexual explicitly and provides the + to cover the large variety of other ones such as pansexual, genderfluid, demisexual, agender, etc.

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4 minutes ago, SorryClaire said:

Not our fault that asexuality and intersex picked up steam.

 

Honestly self hosting open source communication apps should be more and more popular and should be an option. Its basically the same ease of making a discord server and all you need is a hunk of PC that can run it.

Don't even need that, get a $5 droplet on DO and you can run just about every communication server. Once the load/number of members exceeds the specs you'd likely have enough people to chip in a couple of dollars to go to the next tier up.

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Quote

A spokesperson for Apple told Motherboard that in many cases the developers of the app themselves have opted to not make an app available in specific countries.

Quote

Apple Is Letting Over 150 Countries Censor LGBTQ+ Content In The App Store


Your misleading thread title doesn’t match your citation.

 

19 minutes ago, captain_to_fire said:

Basically, Apple bent over in submission to the will of these homophobic countries like an orgy in a penthouse. Bottoms up hunty! :old-tongue:


This isn’t how business works. Apple is a publicly traded company. Publicly traded companies have an obligation to shareholders to make as much money as possible.

 

Pulling out of markets because of morality goes against their obligations and would result in lawsuits from shareholders.

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9 minutes ago, Roswell said:


Your misleading thread title doesn’t match your citation.

In line with the guidelines my thread title was taken directly from the article, complain to Vice about that. The citation by Apple also includes the word many. Not the word all or even most. Meaning that in all other cases Apple decided to block the apps.

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2 minutes ago, Centurius said:

In line with the guidelines my thread title was taken directly from the article, complain to Vice about that.

No, I’m complaining about you because you chose to post it here. Vice, as most able brained people know, is a notoriously poor source of news. 

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3 minutes ago, Roswell said:

No, I’m complaining about you because you chose to post it here. Vice, as most able brained people know, is a notoriously poor source of news. 

It's a perfectly valid source and the content of the article (and the report it is based on for that matter) by and large backs up the title. And that's the last I'll say on that specific matter. If you don't think the topic belongs here, well hey. The forum has procedures to address that.

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"Apple is plastering rainbow flags across their marketing operation in the U.S., but in the meantime they are actively helping governments around the world isolate, silence, and oppress LGBTQ+ people

This is outside my expertise so correct me if i'm making wrong assumptions here, but i'm assuming apple is not ACTIVELY helping countries censor, they are complying with countries' demands. They can either comply or the country could refuse to use their stuff, which I imagine isn't good for reducing censorship. IDK, this is outside my bounds by a lot but I'm not inclined to assume Apple is actively helping to censor a part of their customer base. I'd assume this is more down to the countries holding the final say if they allow things

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I mean is anyone actually surprised? Especially after Apple has essentially given China access to user data of Chinese people. Apple like any other company would rather comply and keep their business in a country than pull out completely out of it, especially countries with large populations that provide a substantial amount of revenue.

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THIS IS TERRIBLE, THEY SHOULD FIRE THEIR CEO OVER THIS, HE IS CLEARLY HOMOPHOBIC!!!!!!

 

------

On a more serious note, different societies have different cultures. It is not the responsibility of the richest ~5% of Americans to force their ideals on the rest of the world. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Jtalk4456 said:

This is outside my expertise so correct me if i'm making wrong assumptions here, but i'm assuming apple is not ACTIVELY helping countries censor, they are complying with countries' demands. They can either comply or the country could refuse to use their stuff, which I imagine isn't good for reducing censorship. IDK, this is outside my bounds by a lot but I'm not inclined to assume Apple is actively helping to censor a part of their customer base. I'd assume this is more down to the countries holding the final say if they allow things

Kind of depends on where you place the line, in most countries Apple absolutely could push back without risking their product being banned. It's mostly the biggest censors such as China, Saudi Arabia and a few others that could conceivably ban Apple products. But even in those countries they could fix the issue, just as Google, by letting people install apps outside of the App Store. Even in China they cannot be held responsible for software they do not themselves provide access to.

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Well to be honest, it's not surprising really that a corporation like Apple for example would so something like this. They use the LGBTQIA+ movement as a means of gaining profit by "showing their support" but ultimately will stab them in the back by either censoring or discrimate them. Look, on occasions when some company is showing their support towards the movement can actually be a positive thing, but regardless, their primary motive is still to profit from it. In other words, they are pieces of shit.   

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2 minutes ago, comander said:

THIS IS TERRIBLE, THEY SHOULD FIRE THEIR CEO OVER THIS, HE IS CLEARLY HOMOPHOBIC!!!!!!

 

------

On a more serious note, different societies have different cultures. It is not the responsibility of the richest ~5% of Americans to force their ideals on the rest of the world. 

 

It would be forcing our ideals on them if these apps were installed by default and somehow needed to be used to be able to use the product. Allowing people to install the apps out of their own free will is not forcing ideals on them.

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28 minutes ago, Roswell said:

This isn’t how business works. Apple is a publicly traded company. Publicly traded companies have an obligation to shareholders to make as much money as possible.

 

Pulling out of markets because of morality goes against their obligations and would result in lawsuits from shareholders.

That would've been fine if they didn't overstate the idea that Apple's ecosystem is the most privacy concerned and overstates that they actually care about the LGBTQ+ community and minorities.

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5 minutes ago, Centurius said:

Kind of depends on where you place the line, in most countries Apple absolutely could push back without risking their product being banned. It's mostly the biggest censors such as China, Saudi Arabia and a few others that could conceivably ban Apple products. But even in those countries they could fix the issue, just as Google, by letting people install apps outside of the App Store. Even in China they cannot be held responsible for software they do not themselves provide access to.

I can see where you're coming from but that's not apple actively helping anything. More apple not actively fighting injustice. No different than you or I NOT actively protesting on a daily basis. Not protesting isn't the same as actively making it worse. Indirectly, sure you can make that argument, but actively helping the problem is a bit inaccurate in this instance

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49 minutes ago, SorryClaire said:

Not our fault that asexuality and intersex picked up steam.

My issue is, even if I'm a kinky type of pan, I don't have time for long ass acronyms.  The point of an acronym is to reduce, not increase, it doesn't mean you're being excluded either.  I'd rather keep them to 3 or 4 at max.  I'm not going to sit around and keep going with pi either.  Nothing against pi, but I'm sticking with 3.14 I'm aware of 159 and am fine with them being part of pi.  I'm just not a cheerleader.

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7 minutes ago, Centurius said:

It would be forcing our ideals on them if these apps were installed by default and somehow needed to be used to be able to use the product. Allowing people to install the apps out of their own free will is not forcing ideals on them.

but that's not what's happening, apple isn't forcing someone to use a certain app to use the product. At least not that I'm aware

4 minutes ago, captain_to_fire said:

That would've been fine if they didn't overstate the idea that Apple's ecosystem is the most privacy concerned and overstates that they actually care about the LGBTQ+ community and minorities.

I care about child adoption to give kids good homes and simultaneously reduce overpopulation, but I have 5 kids and lots of financial responsibility. I am not actively working on the overpopulation issue, but I still care and I'm able to honestly say I care. Caring and being able to fix the problem are two different things. Should we expect such a wealthy company to make SOME effort to match their use of the issue in advertising and their abundance of ability to help? Sure. Do we get to just dictate how they spend their money or villainize them for not fixing the worlds problems? No. But we do get to influence them with our spending. 

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people in those other countries: Apple is openly letting people openly share LGBTQ+ content! the audacity!

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