Google Pulls Reddit App for Linking to Porn

Mar 20, 2012 8:00 AM PST

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The Google Play store has pulled a 3rd-party Reddit Android app claiming it is a “Violation of the sexually explicit material provision of the Content Policy.”

According to reports, the Reddit Is Fun app links users to the Reddit social news site’s front page and to an automatically-generated list of subreddits that contains NSFW content.

Both paid and free versions of the recently updated version 2.0 of the app (that had more than 10,000 positive reviews on Google's Market page) were yanked by Google.

It’s not clear whether Google itself flagged the app or was tipped off by unhappy users.

The app’s maker, Andrew Shu, said he received a notice from Google claiming his Reddit app allowed users to access “sexually explicit material” on their phones and tablets.

A provision in Google Play Developer Content Policies states: “Your application shouldn’t contain content that displays (via text, images, video, or other media) or links to:  (…) Pornography, obscenity, nudity, or sexual activity.”

Shu posted a thread on Reddit's r/Android discussion forum after his app was pulled that read, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this. I got 2 emails from the Google Play Store telling me my apps, reddit is fun lite and pro, have been banned for sexually explicit material.

“I’m not sure how to go about appealing this. After all it’s true that Reddit content includes NSFW content. Not sure exactly why my app was singled out and the other reddit apps weren’t, though.

Any thoughts? Should I even bother appealing? As always I appreciate your input, /r/android. Thanks.”

He also asked advice on via a thread on Google Plus.

Critics are confused over Google’s move considering the Android Market Google Play store has a “high maturity” rating that should allowed Reddit Is Fun.

It’s being argued that because the app was streaming content directly from Reditt’s servers and allowing it to access NSFW message boards, by the same token, Google should then delete its own web browser from all Android phones.

There is also speculation in the tech community that Google may be parroting Apple’s no-porn stance and possible trouble ahead for adult-friendly developers.

Tech writer Violet Blue said on ZDNet that Google’s stance is problematic on a number of levels and also raised concern about Google going the way of Apple. “There is no single, agreed-upon definition of pornography or obscenity. Nor is Google Play defining these terms.

“Besides the fact that it’s an awful and short-sighted policy that dooms Google Play to a lifetime of uneven enforcement. The provision, and the way it has been acted upon, allows Google Play to effectively pull an iTunes,” she said.

“At the outset of the App Store, Steve Jobs singled out 'porn' as one of the things that would be prohibited from its virtual shelves. Jobs famously said in 2008 that people who ‘want porn’ can buy an Android phone,” Blue continued.

Shu told ZDNet that he has been advised by Google's Android Developer Relations team to begin the appeals process.

In the interim, the app is available at

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