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iOS 10 is surfacing hardcore porn GIFs in iMessage

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A huge problem

James Bareham

Apple is having trouble removing porn from iMessage's new GIF search feature. Overnight, Deadspin noticed a highly sexual My Little Pony GIF appearing in searches for the word "butt," but the problem goes well beyond that.

A woman who emailed The Verge this afternoon says her eight-year-old daughter, while trying to send a message to her dad, was presented with "a very explicit image" of "a woman giving oral sex to a well endowed male." Her daughter hadn't searched for anything explicit, just the word "huge."

"I see the image come up like, holy shit, whoa whoa whoa, that's a hardcore porn image," Tassie Bethany, whose daughter discovered the image, tells The Verge by phone. "I grabbed the phone from her immediately. She typed in the word 'huge,' which isn't sexual in any nature. It's just a word, not like butt or anything else."

GIF search is one of the new features built into iMessage in iOS 10. Apple has been prohibiting searches for most sexual terms, but it's a real problem for porn to slip through for an otherwise normal term like "huge."

"That's something that could potentially be pretty traumatizing for a small child."

Other nude images are accessible through searches of misspelled body parts, though we haven't seen anything quite as explicit as what comes up for "huge."

Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment. It took 10 or so hours after Deadspin's initial report for the word "butt" to be banned from iMessage's GIF search; searches for "huge" have already been banned. The GIF feature is powered by Bing; we've also reached out to Microsoft for comment.

Bethany says her daughter is fine — "she had no idea" — but she's concerned about the possibility of other kids being accidentally exposed to porn through what's supposed to be a goofy feature. "My daughter uses it because there's cartoons and fart jokes, that kind of stuff," she said. "That's hardcore porn. People making out she might see on ABC. That's something that could potentially be pretty traumatizing for a small child."