A few tweaks later, 500px back in iOS App Store after pornography snafu

A popular iOS photography app that was removed by Apple last week amid complaints of pornographic images is back in the iOS App Store Tuesday. 500px has been updated with three fixes requested by Apple’s app reviewers, including a tweak that will prevent queries for explicit image searches from producing results, adding a function for users to report inappropriate content, and the addition of a 17+ age rating on the app.
The incident was one of the most high-profile in recent memory of an iOS app getting booted from the App Store over inappropriate content and — combined with the concerns over explicit imagery on Twitter’s Vine app released just days later — served to highlight the inconsistency with which Apple sometimes applies its App Store reviews process.
“It’s been a very intense week,” COO Evgeny Tchebotarev told me by phone on Tuesday. In the days since 500px was removed, he said his team has worked very closely with Apple to address the company’s concerns and get the app back online as quickly as possible.
The app has millions of downloads, and has been on the iOS App Store for several years. But it was seemingly caught off guard by Apple’s public comments last week that not only was the app in violation of Apple’s rules on any pornography, but an Apple spokesman said the company had received complaints about pornographic images involving children, which caused Apple to remove the app immediately.
Tchebotarev said Apple has still not given his company any evidence of explicit images containing children, nor has Apple given any examples of the complaints cited. In the last week 500px performed its own internal audit and found nothing, he said.
“This is something we are waiting to hear from Apple, if they can send us anything becuase this is a serious issue, criminal activity” that his company would report to the proper authorities if found, said Tchebotarev.
While 500px does not allow pornography to be posted on its app or on its website — users who do post it have their accounts deleted and images removed — it does allow “photos of an artistic nature that contain nudity.” 500px has always come with a safe search option by default that filters any images with nudity. But at Apple’s request, 500px is now filtering searches as well. “We made it harder [to find]. If you search ‘porn’ or ‘nudity’ you get zero results,” said Tchebotarev.