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Editorial

HBO Now on Apple TV highlights hypocrisy in Apple's 'no porn' rules

With the much-hyped debut of HBO Now, Apple has once again chosen to look the other way as one if its major partners leverages iOS and the Apple TV to distribute adult content —a courtesy the company still refuses to extend to other developers.




HBO Now, which Apple chief executive Tim Cook has called an "incredible service," brings first-run movies, popular shows like Game of Thrones, and an extensive catalog of on-demand video to Apple's platforms. But it also brings something else: hours and hours of softcore porn.

Choosing the "Late Night" content option— hidden behind the "More" menu on the Apple TV— doesn't fill the screen with clips from Bill Maher or John Oliver. Instead, viewers are greeted with such highbrow titles as Stacked Racks From Mars, The Atomic Hotel Erotica, and Downtown Girls: Hookers of Honolulu.

This certainly isn't the first time porn has infiltrated an Apple device in this way. HBO Go and Cinemax's Max Go have long served adult content to cable subscribers on iOS, sparking the occasional kerfuffle of their own.

So what's different? This time around, there's no need to log in with cable credentials —Apple is essentially selling porn through iTunes.

There's nothing wrong with porn, of course. The only thing wrong is Apple's double standard.

HBO gets away with it because Apple needs what HBO has. Could Apple have muscled a deal in without including pornographic content? Maybe, but they didn't.
Apple should hold its biggest partners to the same standards as the smallest iOS developer.
Apple has no problem flexing its might against smaller foes, though.

Vine was stripped of a prime placement in the App Store because users could search for #porn. Popular photosharing app 500px was pulled for the same reason, prompting Tumblr to add a warning to its own app.

Even Playboy has to bend to the App Store's rules, removing all nudity from its apps and digital magazines.

As one iTunes user said in a one-star review of Playboy Thailand, "If all you want to see i [sic] bathing suit shots, this is the mag for you. Not the playboy [sic] I'm use [sic] to."

Apple's own App Store review guidelines are clear. Section 18.1:

"Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster's Dictionary as "explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings", will be rejected."

The massive popularity of iOS shows that end users don't mind being subjugated by Apple's moral standards. Neither do developers, for the most part.

If only those morals were the same in every situation.