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Discord loosens NSFW server ban on iOS

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Some communities will be opt-in, instead of banned entirely

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Discord has loosened its ban on accessing NSFW servers from its iPhone and iPad apps. Now, only servers focused on “explicit pornographic content” will be fully blocked from being accessed through the apps. Other NSFW servers will still be blocked by default, but users will be able to opt in to viewing them.

The changes walk back a stricter ban on NSFW content that Discord put in place last week. On April 12th, Discord said it would require server owners to mark their community as NSFW if it was “organized around NSFW themes.” Under the original plan, any server marked NSFW would have been inaccessible on iOS.

Users were frustrated with the changes, though, since it limited their ability to communicate with others and moderate servers they were in charge of.

A Discord spokesperson said the changes were made to protect minors from inappropriate content “per App Store guidelines.” Apple has firm restrictions on nudity in the App Store, and Discord may have risked an outright ban if it didn’t block content to come into compliance.

Apple does offer a partial loophole, though, which Discord is taking advantage of: “incidental mature ‘NSFW’ content” is allowed in iOS apps, so long as it’s hidden by default. Apple requires that users opt in via a website — not the app itself — and that’s exactly how Discord has set up its system to reenable access to NSFW content.

“Our goal is always to keep Discord safe, especially for our younger users,” the spokesperson said. The company published additional details on Reddit. “We will continue to work with server owners and our partners, and will notify all server owners letting them know which of their servers are impacted.”

The changes don’t solve the problem for Discord users entirely, but they could offer continued access for some concerned roleplay and art communities that were unsure if they would be able to reach their servers because of the ban.

Update April 19th, 3:34PM ET: This story has been updated with comment from Discord.