500px, the popular photo-sharing app, has been pulled from the iOS App Store. According to TechCrunch, the app, along with its partner ISO500, were pulled because of disagreement over an updated version, which would have allowed users to see nude images in search results. 500px COO Evgeny Tchebotarev says that the new update would have kept nude images out of search results by default, but users would have been able to log in via desktop and turn off the "safe" settings. Tchebotarev says 500px offered to address the issue in an update, but that because the timeframe was too tight, Apple removed the apps instead. 500px is currently unavailable, though we were able to find ISO500.
500px has dealt with questions over nudity or "not safe for work" content in its apps before. In May of 2012, the company removed an app-based slider that allowed users to display nude photos on the iPad, citing a desire to make the app available for all ages. At that point, users could still enable NSFW images as long as they had an account and changed the settings on 500px.com; the company's documentation indicates that policy was in place at least until late October of 2012. Given that, it's not entirely clear what the update would have changed or what prompted Apple to pull the apps now, if the removal was indeed nudity-related. We've reached out to both Apple and 500px, and we'll let you know when we know the full story.
Update: There's still no confirmation of the reason for 500px's removal, but the company has publicly posted about the move:
Update 2: Here's 500px's official account, straight from Evgeny Tchebotarev to us. According to him, the change is in Apple's judgment on the app, not in actual new features being added:
We had a version 2.0.3 in review (and 2.0.2 live), which contained bug fixes and performance improvements only (no changes to the features). However, last night we got a call from Apple that this version wouldn't be approved because it's easy to search for nude photos. Our developer told Apple that we can implement a fix within one day. However, shortly after the call we got an email from Apple that the app will be pulled from the App Store completely.
By morning ET it was pulled.
We are currently working on a fix that will change the way search works on all native apps.
However, about 2 hours ago I got an email from Pulpfingers, a company we purchased last year, that their popular iPhone app ISO500 (that uses 500px API) is also being pulled from the App Store.
Update 3: Apple has responded with the following comment, which confirms that the app was removed for "pornographic" images and, in a new claim, "possible child pornography." We're still not sure why it was pulled only now, since it's not clear that anything has changed with the latest update.
The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines. We also received customer complaints about possible child pornography. We've asked the developer to put safeguards in place to prevent pornographic images and material in their app.
Tchebotarev has responded to us, saying that 500px was not told about the child pornography complaints and that Apple had not mentioned any issues around nudity until a phone call yesterday. "We've never ever, since the beginning of the company, received a single complaint about child pornography. If something like that ever happened, it would be reported right away to enforcement agencies."