Discord Blocks Adult Content From iOS Devices, Citing Apple's 'Creepy' Guidelines

Discord Blocks Adult Content From iOS Devices, Citing Apple's 'Creepy' Guidelines

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Popular group chat service Discord announced Tuesday that it would change its content classification policies regarding what the company terms “NSFW servers” and issued a blanket ban on accessing those servers from iOS devices, including all iPhones.

According to the new guidelines, Discord servers — defined by the company as “spaces on Discord that are made by specific communities and friend groups” — “organized around NSFW themes or if the majority of the server’s content is 18-plus” must “now be classified as 18-plus through the use of an ‘NSFW server’ designation.”

Although “no users between the ages of 13 and 17 will be able to join or view the content in NSFW servers” regardless of device, the company also added a blanket block on access to these “NSFW servers” for “users on the iOS platform (including those aged 18-plus).”

“Only NSFW server owners and moderators will be allowed to view and manage these servers on iOS. All other users will still be able to join and access NSFW servers on the desktop and web versions of Discord,” the company explained.

The blanket ban on mobile access of NSFW servers does not appear to affect Android users.

A Chance to Self-Censor

Discord is offering server owners the chance to self-designate channels and entire servers as NSFW, but issued a warning that “Discord will mark servers meeting these criteria as NSFW if they are not appropriately designated.”

Over the past two years, Discord has grown from its origins as a chat service marketed to the gamer community into a quasi-social media platform where users share files, screen movies and exchange information on a variety of subjects.

“As many adult content creators noted,” wrote Rolling Stone’s EJ Dickson, “Discord’s change in policy regarding NSFW content is part of a larger trend of major social media platforms cracking down on NSFW content, most notably Tumblr, which served as a bastion of erotica for years before the website unceremoniously banned it.”

A Discord spokesperson told Rolling Stone that the changes were effected “to comply with Apple’s policies.”

‘Just Plain Creepy’

Ever since the storied Steve Jobs days, Apple has had a notoriously puritanical approach to sexual content, with the company’s guidelines — which determines which apps can get into coveted markets like the Apple Store and Apple TV streaming devices — containing some of the most peculiar language and notions regarding so-called “NSFW material.”

Apple includes all sexual content — including legal sexual content produced and shared among consenting adults — among a laundry list of “Objectionable Content” that includes incitations to violence, hate speech and a wide variety of specific illegal content.

Apple does not define the forbidden “overtly sexual or pornographic material” according to any legal standard.

Instead, the company explains that it defines “pornographic” using “Webster’s Dictionary.” This results in the vague, arbitrary explanation of the banned sexual material as “explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings."

Theoretically, a company could try to appeal to Apple that their content stimulates “aesthetic or emotional feelings,” but the fact remains that all sexual content is effectively banned from the Apple ecosystem.

Adult content falls under the banner of “Objectionable Content,” which the company describes as “content which is offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, in exceptionally poor taste or just plain creepy."

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