Google, Facebook and Apple are all widely accepted as being among the biggest companies in the world today. You could spend the average urbanite day using almost exclusively the hardware, software and services of these companies alone, but there’s one area that they collectively don’t want to touch with a metaphorical barge pole, and that’s anything deemed ‘adult’.
This is not news. That Google and Apple have been blocking anything vaguely adult-related (while allowing violence freely) from their respective app stores is not a recent occurrence. And STG has noted before that Facebook can be quite the prude when it comes to sex.
Think about that for a minute – the companies that are happy to delve into (almost literally) every other part of your life, collectively don’t have anything useful or positive to think, say or communicate about something that almost everyone engages in. On one hand, that feels like utter madness. On the other, wishing for companies that already have huge reach into your private data, and thus your life as a whole, to have even more sensitive data seems equally nuts. No one has ever said to me, ‘I wish Google cared about my sex life’, but what I equally struggle with is that these companies act as if sex doesn’t exist.
What’s the end result of not allowing adult apps on the Play Store? People download random APKs and end up installing malware-riddled apps that steal their data or banking details. The point of providing a centralised place to download apps, in large part, is to provide discoverability and increase the security of the download – and to make Google and Apple money. It’s a smaller problem on iOS, as you’d need to jailbreak your phone to install non-App Store apps, which fewer people seem to do now, but it still exists.
It’s not just about apps though. Nor access. Facebook is where people get information, look at pictures, chat with people, and get their news. Imagine the overall impact of a company that has two billion users, but can’t find a way to let people talk about anything related to porn or ‘the adult industry’. It’s ridiculous, and potentially damaging.
If you’re thinking this is purely about not allowing porn, think again. If you hadn’t noticed already, while being adult in theme, STG doesn’t actually host any NSFW/explicit content. Articles discussing entirely relevant issues, such as whether regulations could cripple a nascent sextech industry in India, have been blocked for promotion by Facebook. Without boosting those posts, a site such as this – run independently, not by a huge publisher – simply can’t reach its intended audience. The net result of that is less information that could be useful, enlightening or entertaining for people makes it to their eyes.
The criticism isn’t aimed squarely at these three behemoths, but it’s their size and influence that leads to the concern. It’s a huge amount of influence over what you see, read, hear and do each and every day. And yet collectively, Silicon Valley pretty much entirely rejects sex or in some cases the discussion of it.
Sex sells. But not if you’re selling ad space to eyeballs across the entire world, it would seem.