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Google bans reddit client from Play Store for "sexually explicit material" (reddit.com)
144 points by veeti 2017 days ago | hide | past | web | 88 comments | favorite



The march towards being a half-assed Apple continues.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3700731

The disappointment continues as well.

I never would have thought replacing Eric Schmidt as CEO was a bad thing, and I'm sure there are more factors at play here than just that, but I can trace my waning support of Google to a pretty specific time that happens to coincide with Page taking the CEO spot.


And this is where the strength of Android shows. Just download and install the APK: https://github.com/talklittle/reddit-is-fun/downloads

And if this keeps up, someone will just make an alternate market.


There are already tons of alternate markets, including one run by Amazon...


Two other (not only) android markets backed by well-known companies:

http://apps.opera.com/

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/apps/ (coming soon?)


You can jailbreak an iOS device and install whatever you want as well, that doesn't change the fact that Apple makes ridiculous decisions about what can and can't appear on the app store.

My problem with this decision isn't that it makes it impossible for me to install this one app, but rather that it looks very much like the path towards where Apple is, where maybe I have to install a custom Cyanogenmod build on my Android phone just to have the option to install non-'Play' APKs (this isn't the situation now, but I can much more easily see this happening today than I could a year ago).


You don't have to root or jailbreak your Android phone to sideload apps. You don't have to worry about future updates breaking your jailbreak. Just push one button in the settings and you can install apps from any source, even alternative markets like Amazon's app store. http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/b?ie=UTF8&node=2350149...


You do if you are on AT&T's network, at the very least.

Sure, not all Android devices require jail breaking, but some do.


> it looks very much like the path towards where Apple is, where maybe I have to install a custom Cyanogenmod build on my Android phone just to have the option to install non-'Play' APKs

I find it very difficult to believe that Google will remove sideloading. Things have actually moved in the opposite direction. For example, after preventing sideloading for years, AT&T made the decision to enable it last May[0]. Apparently that was thanks to Amazon. So since there are already 2 dominant markets, I don't think it'll happen going forward.

Also, keep in mind that Google has a dominant position in the smartphone market, so such restrictions could draw interest from antitrust regulators.

0: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/05/att-sideload-android-...


And it's not Google's decision either.


Due to the popularity of external markets, like amazon, I don't think this kind of change is going to occur without a very huge shakeup.


This is a good point and I agree. Given that Google has already been looked at for anti-trust violations, I'm sure a move towards disabling APK installing that essentially killed the Amazon market on non-Kindle devices would cause a massive blowup and as such they'll probably avoid doing this.

I'd still rather support a company that kept that feature in because they believed in it rather than because they are afraid of what Amazon and/or the US/EU will do if they change it. Unfortunately, I'm less sure than ever that Google will do the open thing because it is the open thing and not because changing it to the closed thing would be too painful. And that sucks.


Semicolon: learn it, love it, use it.


Since it's open source* it's already available in the F-droid repository (which in this context would be called a Market, if it weren't all free):

F-droid installer: https://f-droid.org/FDroid.apk

Web link to RIF http://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdfilter=reddit%20is%2...

* I'm currently using Diode which is a fork of the older RIF app.


It's amazing how fast Google has gone from having arguably the most respected brand in America to having a brand that stands for almost nothing. However, this has been something that's been at least five years coming so I don't think it's necessarily fair to blame it on Page taking over.


For any curious devs: the distinction between this and the reason why web browsers (like Chrome, Dolphin, or Firefox) aren't banned, according to Google at least, is direct linking. An app is allowed to "browse" to NSFW material, but cannot explicitly link (or come pre-loaded with favorites or bookmarks) to said material.

That said, this is still an awful and draconian policy. I wouldn't have batted an eyelash if this was a news story coming from Apple's App Store, because that's just par for the course in their ecosystem. I love what Android used to stand for, but lately I'm finding it harder to stand by my principles, with Apple providing a very enticing walled garden that's getting harder to avoid.


An app is allowed to "browse" to NSFW material, but cannot explicitly link (or come pre-loaded with favorites or bookmarks) to said material.

We sell a Reddit image-browsing client on the iOS App Store (http://steamclocksw.com/prism/) and hit this in v1.0. We assumed that our 18+ rating for being able to browse to NSFW material meant we'd get some leeway, but we were initially rejected for including the "prettygirls" Reddit, which consists of fully clothed photos of adult women.


4chan browsers (chandroid, yon, etc) all include links to NSFW boards in their main list, and those are all available on Google Play. I think they're just being very selective about applying their policy, probably not on purpose either.


Except multiple Reddit clients exist for iOS, and have for years.


And none of them link directly to NSFW reddits.


I guess I don't understand what you mean by "link directly," but NSFW links appear on the Reddit homepage often, and touching them will open the link in the app's browser. Also, (at least in Alien Blue) I can subscribe to any subreddits I want, including NSFW ones.


By "link directly" we mean that a subreddit devoted solely to NSFW content appears as a default in a list of ones to browse from the moment the app is launched.

You've always been free to add specific NSFW subreddits that you know about after the fact. And NSFW links appearing on the frontpage is an occupational hazard, that quite possibly never happened during the App Store review process.


Some of them do show the most popular subreddits (which currently happens to have a naughty subreddit in it), though, as this one does. I think the issue is that the Google person understood the list of popular subreddits to be a developer-specified thing, when in fact it's auto-generated.


From the comments: tapping the top icon from the landing page takes you to a pretty full list of subreddits including NSFW ones


Note that this changed recently: an upgrade was recently pushed through that made this change. The list used to be a list of 10 or so subreddits, but now the list has been expanded to include the top 30-50 or so reddits I think, including all the NSFW ones.

You could get to NSFW subreddits in the older version but had to know the name.


i can make a bookmark to a NSFW site with the browser that's provided in android. how is that not direct linking?


I don't have any sexually explicit apps on my phone, I don't care to download any, and I don't even care to have a reddit app (I don't use the site) but the lack of censorship in the android marketplace was always the biggest reason I supported Android. Yes its true you can get apps from other sources but you shouldn't have to. I opposed the need for the amazon app store for example. Anyway this really makes me sad that google feels the need to start filtering for any reason other then malware. I've been a huge android supporter over the past few years, and this in no way is making me get an iphone, but if they continue down on this path I don't know if I'll follow in the future.


> I opposed the need for the amazon app store for example.

I understand what you are saying, but I believe the reasoning applies more directly to other markets (eg, slideme). I don't think that the Amazon App store exists due to restrictive Google policies, but rather due to Amazon's desires to directly enter this market (cf, Kindle Fire).


I've been using smart phones since the treo, and used palm devices since around 1999/2000. Since I've lived through all of that I can really appreciate a single source to get everything, manage updates, etc as long as that source is fair and unbiased. That is why I didn't like when amazon launched their own store for android apps. It added a second store you had to run to update apps, and segregated the market, etc. If google keeps heading down this path though I will support a open 3rd party marketplace.


Thankfully though, you can still always download the app directly from the creator without needing to do anything complicated to your device.


But then you lose things like the ability for it to auto update when the marketplace err play store detects a new version.

Also I was doing some research on the app creator and whats funny is it looks like a couple years ago google even sent the creator a free nexus one for making the first version of this app. lol.


> But then you lose things like the ability for it to auto update

Not at all: http://f-droid.org/


>the lack of censorship in the android marketplace was always the biggest reason I supported Android //

So you support Android only as far as they allow the undesired exposure of users to hardcore porn or shock imagery? That seems a very strange line to take.


Speaking for myself, yes, I support Android as long as they allow hardcore porn or shock imagery.

This is not because I want to watch those things (although I do occasionally), but because otherwise it means I'm losing the freedom to do that. And first it's porn, but what's next? Political oppinions? Google's competition?

I'm so dissapointed.


They have content filtering settings in the market.

[x] everyone

[x] low maturity

[x] medium maturity

[x] high maturity

[x] show all apps

With settings like that where the device owner can pick what they want to see why block anything.


So lack of censorship isn't the reason that you love Android it is instead categorisation of censored material??

>why block anything //

Presumably to retain users and keep inside the relevant laws.


This seems like a great place to plug f-droid which is basically an Android "market" of all open-source apps that they compile themselves. Download reddit is fun from f-droid here:

http://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdid=com.andrewshu.and...


In some ways, I wish this was a case of a company enforcing its own morals. Chick-fil-a is closed on Sundays. Fine. I don't eat there. Enough people do to keep them open. Great.

The thing about morals, though, is that everyone can have their own view. Taco Bell is open on Sundays. So is McDonalds, Burger King, and literally thousands of other restaurants. So why should I care that Chick-fil-a is closed?

No, I think this is about litigation. That's a lot more troubling because all companies (at least those based in the US) are subject to the same threats of litigation. Obviously, laws are based on morals, but ideally laws are based on the union of a population's morals, not the intersection.

This does not bode well for America.


Obviously, laws are based on morals

I think that's an astute observation... probably not obvious to most people.

ideally laws are based on the union of a population's morals, not the intersection

Did you mean this the other way around? The union of my morals and those of Chick-fil-a would mean I can't work on Sunday. The intersection is probably more like, don't initiate force against others.


So they don't want to promote it in the Android Market, but you can still install it from other sources, can't you?

I mean, wouldn't a curated collection in "Play Store" (or whatever it's called) along with the option to download outside apps be the best of both worlds?


Yes, you can always install a .apk file directly via download, though there are a few steps to the process (turn on "developer mode" or whatever, then find the unassociated downloaded file and launch it). Amazon seems to be making it work with their market app though, so it's probably not insurmountable.

But no, I wouldn't consider that a "best" of the two worlds. Adult sites like reddit mix "clean" content and NSFW stuff all the time, and dumping them in an unsupported bin isn't likely to make anyone happy. If there's a curation step, there also needs to be a opt-in for people who don't mind the occasional nudity with their geek news.


>opt-in for people who don't mind the occasional nudity //

This sounds like a fanboy-like purposed miscategorisation. Reddit links to hardcore pornography (and mirrors it in thumbnail form) and has until very recently carried Child pornography. It is also a hub for extreme NSFL shock imagery.

You can argue that someone should provide a repository for Android apps that allow access to such things but I don't think you can fairly expect any particular company to put their name to promotion of that sort of content. Any company that wishes to remain with an appearance of respectability would probably do well to keep a large distance between themselves and reddit (and probably 4chan from what I've heard but I'm not that familiar with it - I've visited a couple of times and what I found was relatively tame compared to what I've seen on reddit, YMMV).

>'reddit is fun banned for "sexually explicit material"'

That sounds like the correct analysis to me.


Reddit links to hardcore pornography (and mirrors it in thumbnail form)

I guess that's true, because Reddit accepts and mirrors thumbnails from any image link posted. But that doesn't make it a "porn site" either. Lots of folks like me go there to read stuff like /r/askscience, which is about as good a pop science hub as any in print or web form anywhere in the world. You're saying you'd want to be censoring that forum because of stuff people do elsewhere on the site? You're not alone, but I suspect you'll find very few supporters for that opinion here.

And I think your information might be a little spun. When on earth did Reddit carry child pornography? Doing so is a crime pretty much anywhere, and I don't remember any FBI raids.


>But that doesn't make it a "porn site" either. Lots of folks like me go there to read stuff like /r/askscience, which is about as good a pop science hub as any in print or web form anywhere in the world. You're saying you'd want to be censoring that forum because of stuff people do elsewhere on the site? //

Nice and strawy. I never said that reddit was a "porn site"; probably because it isn't primarily (though there's observer bias, that's not how I use it shall we say). However subreddits do promote hardcore porn.

I didn't at any time say I was going to deny anyone access to, nor label as adult material, /r/askscience.

>And I think your information might be a little spun. //

I visited a "bestof" thread that linked to what is almost certainly categorised as child pornography in my jurisdiction (and in the US AFAICT under the Dost test) and FWIW reported the content of that subreddit to the IWF based on the thumbnails+titles (IWF is a UK watchdog, see https://www.iwf.org.uk/hotline/assessment-levels). There was a previous incident involving subreddits created by violentcrez (sp?) where the subreddit was closed by reddit as users were making offers and requests explicitly for images of an under-age girl.

See http://i.imgur.com/mWqlJ.png (NSFW, images there may be illegal in your country - they're copies of reddit thumbnails) for example and the thread I found that in http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/pj804/are_you_fucking_k... which started as a rather forceful apologia for paedophilic imagery.


Yeah, that's pretty spun. Reporting something to the IWF doesn't mean they took action (the IWF publishes a block list of banned URLs, I'm pretty sure reddit.com isn't on it). "Making offers and requests" for content that apparently didn't exist isn't child pornography. Nor is "pedophilic imagery" child pornography. You are using what in most contexts is a legal term (c.f. "murder", "larceny") incorrectly. Were there any actual children expoited on/through/via Reddit? That's usually the test for criminal misconduct.

And the strawman bit is I think missing the point. There's a real moral question about where to put the boundary between "protection from unwanted content" and inappropriate censorship ("friendly fire") of good content. Pointing out that reddit has lots of the latter is, I think, important and relevant to that discussion. Most sane people I know are more liberally tolerant if the relative benefit is higher.


>Yeah, that's pretty spun. //

So you're saying that Dost isn't a test used in US law to determine whether images are child pornography or not.

My point in referring to my report to IWF was that under their summary recapitulation of the Sentencing Guidelines Council's Definitive Guidelines of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 WRT such images I was convinced that this material was child pornography.

Are you saying that crotch shots of pre-teen girls entitled "juicy" or making reference to them as sexual objects is not child pornography or are you defending child pornography as something that should be allowed?

Were there actual children exploited on/through reddit. Yes.

>Most sane people I know are more liberally tolerant if the relative benefit is higher. //

Ah gotcha: So I'm insane because you feel that a few sexually exploited children should be perfectly fine as long as you get your fix of askscience in a ready Android app?

Wow. I hope you're trolling.


Why are you bringing up the creepy comments attached to the images? Those thumbnails seem to be of clothed children not engaged in explicitly sexual behavior. Cropping and making inappropriate lewd comments is exploitative but it's not pornographic.


Someone raised that very point in the linked reddit thread (paraphrasing) "you can see pics like these in the Sears catalogue". Presentation and intent make it pornography.

One of those images as a picture in a family album (assuming they've not been posed sexually) - not pornographic. Same image with sexualising content and presented alongside similar images in a forum intend to pander to the salacious nature of those who get aroused by sexualised images of children - pornographic.

Or do you think that there is no such thing as pornographic image of a human because you could see those same parts of the body in an anatomy book? If you do go that far, then presumably you'd also not find anything to be erotic? Would you also say that intent is not important?


I believe that the intentions of the subject and photographer matter. I do not believe that the intent of any distributor matters. A photograph is a moment of time set in stone, and cannot be changed by appendices.


So if someone posts your picture on the front page of your local paper with a headline "rapist at large" then you're fine with that because it's just an image and context doesn't matter?


Wow, I sure screwed up communicating because you have my point exactly backwards.

1. I think it's bad and I'm not 'fine with it'.

BUT

2. I think it's not an 'image of a rapist' because context can't change an image.


Some info on reddit and alleged CP content: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=346...


FWIW that link seems particularly lacking in objectivity.


Indeed, I didn't mean to claim otherwise, but as far as I know it's a large part of the reason why reddit has purged the listed subs.


How is listing user submitted apps "promoting" that content? Is HN promoting CP* because they didn't delete your own post further down?

* assuming it is CP, as you claimed


Why is the US such a prude country?

They show people blowing their head off with a gun in the afternoon news while children are watching, but omg, a boob or even worse a nipple they go crazy!

This ban has to be taken back, or all other means to browse reddit must be banned as well, including all google browsers, etc. I see a lawsuit coming otherwise.


This ban has to be taken back, or all other means to browse reddit must be banned as well, including all google browsers, etc.

I don't understand your reasoning here. When a store decides to not devote shelf space to an item, they are in no way trying to prevent you from going to another store that carries it. My local grocer does not carry tomatillos, but they're not going to sue me if I get them elsewhere.


The analogy is crap.

Let me make it worse: You're the only store around for miles and miles and people really just buy what you've got in stock. Sure, they could order online or grow something in their backyards. Maybe there's this obscure and small outlet for some of the missing things from your inventory, but most customers don't know the place.

But you just decided to remove meat from your store now. You consider eating meat distasteful and barbaric and really want to have nothing to do with that sort of stuff.

In my book you'd be

- abusive in your position as a quasi-monopoly

- an asshole by forcing your morale standards on others

I think that's a good point the GP makes. I don't give a damn what the weirdo moral limits are in the US. They are totally insane if you have my upbringing.

If you want to police the market, add proper age restrictions. Or use this braindead misfeature of regional support and don't allow apps like this in the US (now that would be a change, eh?).


  > they're not going to sue me if I get them elsewhere.
But that's a potential sale lost. You're stealing that potential revenue from your local grocer and deserve to be punished!


It's just how the US is.

I was watching a very violent move, late at night, on a cable channel. All kinds of violence - no problem.

Suddenly an inured woman is being given first aid, in the process one nipple falls out of her shirt briefly - GIANT blur.

The root causes for this pro-violence/anti-sex culture could be interesting for sociology researches.


That's a little different though. The blood in that movie was fantasy. The nipple was real.


I don't think you should be down-voted. I find your thinking process fascinating.


People in the US don't go to movies to watch real violence. There's no actual war footage in most war movies, even though it's readily available. Audiences like indulging in a fantasy of violence, but we don't really glorify real violence.


What do you think of the approach to TV censorship in Europe, where fantasy violence is blurred, but nudity and sex are not?


I'm not completely sure. I think the idea is that violence is inherently destructive whereas nudity is not. Probably using sex as entertainment is more socially acceptable than enjoying violence, even fake violence. shrugs


"They show people blowing their head off with a gun in the afternoon news while children are watching"

Do you actually think this is a true statement about the US?


It has been a long time, but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Budd_Dwyer

That incident alone doesn't mean that this is happening often, because it isn't. Violence is shown on US television all the time, but it is almost always of the fictional variety.


> but it is almost always of the fictional variety.

And does that distinction make it ok?


Why is it that every time this 'violence vs. sex' shtick is brought out, the people who are upset about violence often react to it in the same way the people they are criticizing act about sex (i.e., ban this sick filth!) ?

Death is just as natural as sex. Arguably more so - everything dies, and nature seems to have no aversions to violent death. Why would fictional death bother you?


Because having sex with people is normal and commonplace, but murdering people isn't.


Interesting that you'd narrow it down to 'murdering', because violence is much broader than murder. We're quite sheltered from the effects of warfare, for instance, especially when the casualties are not our own. The major media does not like to show bombed-out villages, and burned corpses. Granted, people may not want to see them...but perhaps they should see them?


"Death is just as natural as sex." was what I was responding to. Sex happens far, far, far more often than death, let alone violent death. No-one will die more than once, but most people have sex a great number of times.


Currently, yes. For more of human history than not, both were common.


In some human societies, violent assault and murder are common. In others, they are not because we have they agreed to work to stop them. I know where I would rather live.

Also, there is a difference between acknowledging that unpleasant things happen sometimes, and making it look standard, routine or even glorifying it, and arguably many TV and Movie productions cross that line.

(& Don't assume I want it banned - I never said that.)


Yet despite the rapid rate at which media is getting more and more violent, violent crime rates continue to decline. Of course, correlation != causation and all that, but it is certainly appearing that exposure to violence in media, glorified or otherwise, isn't really a big deal.

No credible study has ever really been done that links violent media with violent behavior.

I'd rather live in a free society that deals with fake violence in media but does not tolerate it in real life than one that does the opposite, of course, but I never see the point of this 'sex vs. violence in media' thing, because they really aren't equivalent and allowing one but not the other really isn't 'hypocrisy', it's just a difference in cultural norms.


Murdering people was never common, certainly nowhere near as common as having sex. Don't forget that the histories you look at highlight the murders and wars just like modern-day journalism does - because it's "interesting and different". For example, the vikings are burned into our collective memory as vicious raiders - but they were traders that got on well with their neighbours. Murder has always been something out of the ordinary, right back to the bloke who jotted down "Thou shalt not kill"


Naturalistic fallacy.

I have no hard statistics to back up either side, though.


Pointing out that something occurs in nature does not mean that a naturalistic fallacy has taken place.


No - but pointing out that something happens in nature, and _for_that_reason_ shouldn't be bothering people. Nature being full of violent deaths does not have anything to do with whether fictional deaths on TV are good or bad, yet this was (IMHO) implied.


No, the distinction does not make it okay. Other things make it okay.


I have seen people killed on the evening news before. Granted I don't recall anyone using a gun to 'blow their own brains out', but if they will show: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Douglas_Wells the limitation is simply is it news.


There are no details given in that link about the broadcast.

I find it a bit shocking that it took 44 minutes from the 911 call to the detonation and yet apparently TV crews got there in time to broadcast it (not just record it presumably; so outside broadcast van and patching through to live TV). USA is truly a media marvel.


> They show people blowing their head off with a gun in the afternoon news while children are watching, but omg, a boob or even worse a nipple they go crazy!

http://i.imgur.com/SRa6U.png


Looks like Android users are going to start losing one of their "talking points" if this is going to become a trend in the Google Marketplace.

Instead of making the choice to crack down on sexual content I wish they would instead focus on getting ICS onto more handsets, cracking down on carriers / manufactures modifying device OS, and bouncing malware apps.


Well, one of the "talking points" is that Google Marketplace isn't the only way to install apps. If Google goes this route, someone else can create an app market that competes. With Apple, you're stuck with what they spoon-feed you (unless you're successful enough to launch a PR campaign against them that works in getting them to back down).


The point of Android isn't that Google's Marketplace is better, it's that Google's Marketplace is non-exclusive. This is a textbook example of why being locked into a single source of applications is such a horrible idea.


Looks like Android users are going to start losing one of their "talking points"

It is? One of the biggest complaints about the Android Market by many Android advocates is that it is too much of a Wild West, and that it very strongly needs more control.

There is a medium somewhere between no control and complete control that is a nice mix, especially if you have to option of opting out of the control structure if you don't want it: If you want what the market doesn't have you are totally free to install any number of alternative markets, if not installing directly from third parties.


They should remove gmail as well. I get some crazy things via that app

And it goes direct to my notification bar. talk about direct linking


...Redditors find some way to blame Apple and "hipsters"




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