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Steve Jobs, Google and porn hypocrisy

07 May

Some more porn news today, but before we get to that, just a quick pointer to an interview I did this week. I spoke to Joseph Planta, who runs Thecommentary.ca – a website that focuses on books and authors – on Monday and he’s put the audio up. Check it out if you’re interested. I’m thoroughly impressed with the quantity and quality of authors Joe gets for his site, so I’m honoured to be counted among them.

Now back to the porn. One of the things I missed while getting rained on in the New Zealand bush was a rather overt swipe at porn by Steve Jobs, the Jesus-like leader of the cult known as Apple. Jobs apparently made some holier-than-thou comments last month about how Apple was working hard to keep porn off the iPhone and iPad, and that if you wanted that stuff, you could go get it on a Google Android phone.

Well, this week a group of moralists followed up and said they’re going to put pressure on Google to similarly clean up its mobile phone operating system and app store. The Parents Television Council, which has complained about everything from professional wrestling to Janet Jackson’s breast to YouTube in general, now wants Google to crack down on porn that is available on phones that run its software.

The PTC’s move is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the group has essentially praised Apple, saying, “We think there’s room for improvement, but we are definitely pleased with their response to our complaints.” For a company that depends so much on maintaining a “cool” image, an endorsement from the PTC can’t possibly be much of a plus for Apple.

What’s more interesting, though, is Apple’s strengthening anti-porn stance, and some of the hypocrisy behind it. As I’ve mentioned before, the company was quite happy to allow porn a good deal of flexibility on the iPhone when it was the new underdog in the market. Now that the iPhone is the device to beat, Apple no longer needs porn to fuel its success, so of course the company is taking a harder position against it. But, as the PTC has pointed out, the iPhone’s Safari web browser lacks the parental filter controls present in its desktop counterpart.

It’s hard to believe that’s a technical failing on Apple’s part. More likely, it’s been left out on purpose, which seems to indicate that Apple doesn’t want to completely eliminate porn from the iPhone. In other words, the device is not successful, but maybe not yet successful enough.

Google, on the other hand, seems to be giving porn free reign on Android phones, and that’s totally understandable – they’re the challengers. Banning porn would eliminate one of their major advantages over the iPhone, as Jobs seems to have so inadvertently pointed out. Take that to its logical conclusion, and you can bet that if Android ever reaches a level of success comparable to the iPhone, Google will move to limit porn on its phones too.

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Posted by on May 7, 2010 in apple, Google, mobile, sex

 

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