Apple’s Adult Filters Block the Word ‘Asian’ in Browser Search

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Tech-savvy social media users are calling out Apple for blocking any browser search containing the word “Asian” when the user turns on the iOS parental control feature “limit adult websites.”

Apple’s latest operating system update, iOS 14, has three different filter options under limit screen time settings that let parents set what content they would like to get access to while using the phone, according to The Independent.

The options include: “unrestricted access,” “limit adult websites” and “allowed websites only.” Choosing to limit adult websites will restrict the user from searching any phrases that have the word “Asians” in it while using the browsers installed in Apple’s iPhone or iPad.

“Asian food,” “Asian fusion,” “Asian diaspora,” “Asian communities,” “Asian countries” and “Asian politics,” “Asian cultures” and “Asian hairstyles” are all off-limits in the browser search, Engadget reported.

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The search will pass through Apple’s filter without any problems if the user replaces the word “Asian” with other ethnicities in their browser, such as French, African, Indian, Arab and others.

Steven Shen, an iOS developer, was one of the first few who noticed how the operating system filters the word “Asian” in its browsers in 2019. When he filed a report to Apple saying the filters were showing “Incorrect/Unexpected Behavior,” his concerns were left unanswered by the company.

In February 2020, product strategist at Workday, Charlie Stigler, raised the issue of Apple’s adult content filter on Twitter.

“I think it’s unlikely someone intentionally hard coded this,” Shen told The Independent. “Probably the result of AI. Similar to how facial recognition has trouble working on people with darker skin tones.”

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“Apple’s bug tracking is perhaps quite notorious in the Apple developer community. Most of the feedback we filed seemingly go into a blackhole. I wish they fixed it sooner.”

Meanwhile, Kate Isaacs, the founder of NotYourPorn, called the issue “abhorrent” when referring to “Asian” as porn instead of an entire demographic of people.

“It’s abhorrent that the word ‘Asian’ makes us think of porn rather than representing an entire group of people. The fetishisation of Asian people – particularly young girls and women – is fundamentally sexist and racist,” Isaacs said, adding that ethnicities should not be considered as kinks.

“We cannot ignore the porn industry’s responsibility in the fetishisation of young girls and particular ethnicities – they should be held accountable like any other form of media. It’s upsetting that an Asian person could be searching for representation completely innocently online, only to find that tech companies see them solely as something NSFW.”

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Featured Image via BBH Singapore

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