Apple caused quite the concern earlier this week when it updated its app store guidelines in an effort to ban hookup apps that could include pornography or facilitate prostitution. Many in the community feared that popular gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff would fall victim to the new rules, but Apple clarified that those apps are, indeed, safe. Instead, the tech company told Apple Insider the rule change was intended to stop apps that are using dating as a cover while they actually facilitated pornography, prostitution, or human trafficking.
The rule in question, 1.1.4, bans material defined by the Webster’s Dictionary as "overtly sexual or pornographic" such as "explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings." The guideline specifically states the ban "includes 'hookup' apps that may include pornography or be used to facilitate prostitution."
Apple stressed that the rules were not intended to target dating apps like Grindr and Scruff, which are popular among the LGBTQ+ community. They also said new updates to guideline 1.1.4 merely codified rules that were already in place for apps and content within the Apple ecosystem. In other words, Grind and Scruff are safe even if they sometimes contain NSFW content.
Earlier this year, Apple added 217 new emojis in an iOS update, including a bearded lady and 200 different skin tone choices for interracial and gay couples with additional male, female, and gender-neutral options. The largest number of new emojis relate to individual representation as couples. Past updates enabled various skin tone and gender options to the people holding hands emoji, and the new update extends those same options to couples. Of the 217 new emojis, 200 relate to this option. Other new emojis included a new syringe and 'stoner' emojis.
Grindr has also been in the news lately. Earlier this month a man pleaded guilty to using the popular gay dating app to lure men for robbery, assault, kidnapping, and, in at least one case, sexual assault. Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, Texas, faces up to 26 years in jail for his role in the vicious attacks. An elderly man in Australia was brutally tortured with an electric drill, taser, pruning shears, and worse by two brothers who lured him using Grindr. A teen in Louisiana was left with permanent partial paralysis after a young man he met on Grindr attempted to kill and partially dismember him late last year. Chance Seneca, 19, tried to cut off the hands of Holden White, 18, last year.
"When I wake up, I am in his bathtub naked," White recalled of the terrifying experience. "The water is running, and it's cold. He is in the process of doing my left wrist. He was slicing it like this and was very, very hard. It was to the point that he was basically trying to cut off my hands."
In an effort to help combat such crimes, Apple also announced new guidelines requiring apps that are reporting crimes must also involve notification of local law enforcement agencies, and can only be offered in countries where law enforcement actively participates in the program. The company also announced it loosened restrictions on in-app sales from legal and licensed pharmacies and cannabis dispensaries and where the practice is legal.