Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Users of the iOS Discord App Will Be Unable to Access NSFW Channels

Kyle Orland, Ars Technica:

Discord users who access the Discord app through iOS will now face restrictions on adult content that go beyond those for other platforms. The gaming-focused social networking app — which lets users create public or private servers to chat via text, image, voice, and video livestreaming — announced this week that “all users on the iOS platform (including those aged 18+) will be blocked from joining and accessing NSFW servers. iOS users aged 18+ will still be able to join and access NSFW communities on the desktop and web versions of Discord.”

That NSFW designation can be set by the server owner or by Discord itself, in keeping with community guidelines requiring the label on “adult content.” Individual channels within a server can be designated as NSFW without imposing limits on the full server, but an entire server may be labeled as NSFW “if the community is organized around NSFW themes or if the majority of the server’s content is 18+,” the company said.

Matthew Bischoff on Twitter:

When we dealt with this at Tumblr, it became my full time jobs for weeks to find incredibly complex ways to appease Apple’s censors. This happened every time they found a sexy blog they didn’t like. It’s absurd.

Speaking of Twitter, that company expressly permits “graphic violence and consensually produced adult content” within users’ tweets “provided that [users] mark this media as sensitive”. Reddit permits NSFW text and media so long as it is marked. Discord has a similar policy of allowing NSFW media in channels so long as those channels are marked. What makes it different? Is Apple going to demand that Reddit and Twitter also prohibit accessing NSFW media from within those companies’ iOS apps?

This is nothing like the Parler situation. Parler and Gab have little to no moderation of their platforms, so they are not compliant with the App Store rules. That is understandable to me; you may disagree with that policy, but it is at least a written policy. But Discord, Reddit, and Twitter all attempt to moderate their platforms to varying degrees of success. What makes Discord different?

Update: As of April 19, Discord has loosened these policies. It has now gated channels marked NSFW, and expressly prohibited only dedicated pornographic channels. This remains far more cautious than the official apps from Reddit or Twitter. Discord blamed Apple’s guidelines for why it had to make these changes, so I remain confused why it needs to be treated differently.