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iOS

Tumblr just added a switch in the iOS Settings that lets you turn the porn back on

Here’s an interesting change: Tumblr’s iOS application just received an update which now lets you turn on or off adult-oriented, NSFW search results just by toggling a switch in iOS’s Settings. That’s right: you can now switch on or off the Tumblr porn with ease. Weirder still, Tumblr’s note about the change in the App Store update text says this was implemented per Apple’s content guidelines.

Why is that weird?

Because Apple’s developer guidelines at least today explicitly tell app developers not to do this sort of thing.

Above: Tumblr’s iOS app update text

While Apple has never permitted explicit apps whose sole purpose is to serve pornography, it long ago carved out an exception for social networks hosting user-generated content, provided they agreed to filter and hide the NSFW content by default.

This is an issue that greatly impacts Tumblr, given that its blogging network is actually composed of a lot of porn. In fact, according to website analytics service SimilarWeb, adult content is the top category that drives direct clicks to Tumblr’s desktop site, accounting for 20.53% of clicks, compared with the next-largest referring category, books and literature, which drove just 7.61% of clicks.

Above: Tumblr’s new porn toggle

Tumblr has always had NSFW content, saying that its policy about this sort of material is a live-and-let-live kind of thing, but it draws the line at actually hosting sexually explicit videos. (Embed them, it says.)

To be allowed into the iTunes App Store, Tumblr has had to filter out and hide this content in its iOS app by default. There’s a loophole, though as I’m sure many of you know.

According to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, apps like Tumblr are allowed to show the NSFW content if the user turns the setting on via the services website.

Here’s the full text, per Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, about how this system is supposed to work, emphasis ours:

Apps with user-generated content or services that end up being used primarily for pornographic content, objectification of real people (e.g. hot-or-not voting), making physical threats, or bullying do not belong on the App Store and may be removed without notice. If your app includes user-generated content from a web-based service, it may display incidental mature NSFW content, provided that the content is hidden by default and only displayed when the user turns it on via your website.

Tumblr clearly fits in that latter category of apps that display incidental mature NSFW content, but it’s now being told to put a toggle in iOS’s Settings?

Hmmm.

The most logical explanation for this sort of change is that Apple will allow this setting to be locked down via its parental controls at some point. That’s not the case right now, though.

Under Settings > General > Restrictions, you can block the kids from using Apple’s built-in apps, block app downloads, and can block apps based on their current rating. (Tumblr is rated 17+, for example). However, there is not a way to force something like a Safe Search toggle switch to remain on.

Above: iOS 10’s Restrictions screen

It’s possible that Apple will roll out improved parental controls in the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 11, which is expected to be announced at WWDC this summer. Perhaps it directed Tumblr to implement this setting in preparation of that change. (And maybe Apple didn’t expect Tumblr to code the fix so quickly or call it out in the apps update text!)

Other apps where adult content could be a concern like Google, Twitter, Reddit, Flickr, 500px, and Pinterest don’t currently offer this sort of toggle switch in the iOS Settings, even though they may offer content filtering mechanisms of their own in their apps or on their websites.

Tumblr used to have in-app Safe Search controls as well, somehow bypassing Apple’s rules. This is an area Apple has cracked down on before, as with third-party Reddit apps. But in that case, the Reddit app makers were advised that after removing their toggle switches, users would have to turn on NSFW content from the Reddit website, as per Apple’s guidelines. Tumblr is doing it differently.

Of course, another explanation is that Apple is just chilling out about NSFW content in general, but that seems far less likely given the company’s historical position on a being a family-friendly App Store.

“Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone,” Steve Jobs famously said.

Apple has not responded to requests for comment about the matter. Tumblr declined to comment.

Disclosure: Yahoo owns Tumblr, and is in the process of being acquired by Verizon; Verizon owns TechCrunch parent company AOL.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/28/tumblr-just-added-a-switch-in-the-ios-settings-that-lets-you-turn-back-on-the-porn/

Nonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference

New Zealand professor asked to present his work at US event on nuclear physics despite it containing gibberish all through the copy.

A nonsensical academic paper on nuclear physics written only by iOS autocomplete has been accepted for a scientific conference.

Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November.

Since I have practically no knowledge of nuclear physics I resorted to iOS autocomplete function to help me writing the paper, he wrote in a blog post on Thursday. I started a sentence with atomic or nuclear and then randomly hit the autocomplete suggestions.

The text really does not make any sense.

The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids, is a sample sentence from the abstract.

It concludes: Power is not a great place for a good time.

Bartneck illustrated the paper titled, again through autocorrect, Atomic Energy will have been made available to a single source with the first graphic on the Wikipedia entry for nuclear physics.

He submitted it under a fake identity: associate professor Iris Pear of the US, whose experience in atomic and nuclear physics was outlined in a biography using contradictory gender pronouns.

The nonsensical paper was accepted only three hours later, in an email asking Bartneck to confirm his slot for the oral presentation at the international conference.

I know that iOS is a pretty good software, but reaching tenure has never been this close, Bartneck commented in the blog post.

He did not have to pay money to submit the paper, but the acceptance letter referred him to register for the conference at a cost of US$1099 (also able to be paid in euros or pounds) as an academic speaker.

I did not complete this step since my university would certainly object to me wasting money this way, Bartneck told Guardian Australia. … My impression is that this is not a particularly good conference.

The International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics will be held on 17-18 November in Atlanta, Georgia, and is organised by ConferenceSeries: an amalgamation of Open Access Publications and worldwide international science conferences and events, established in 2007.

An organiser has been contacted by Guardian Australia for comment.

Bartneck said that given the quality of the review process and the steep registration fee, he was reasonably certain that this is a money-making conference with little to no commitment to science.

I did not yet reply to their email, but I am tempted to ask them about the reviewers comments. That might be a funny one.

The conferences call for abstracts makes only a little more sense than Bartnecks paper.

Nuclear and sub-atomic material science it the investigation of the properties, flow and collaborations of the essential (however not major) building pieces of matter.

A bogus research paper reading only Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List repeated over and over again was accepted by the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, an open-access academic journal, in November 2014.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/22/nonsense-paper-written-by-ios-autocomplete-accepted-for-conference

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