/ Technology

Apple’s mission to stop you ‘sexting’

Starred swear word in speech bubble

Apple’s patented a way to censor the naughty words from our text messages. It’s all in an attempt to help parents and jealous partners stop their loved ones sending rude messages, or ‘sexting’.

It’s true, our profanity filter here at Which? Convo has been a little over sensitive. Starring out words like ‘passenger’ and ‘glasses’ due to the apparent saucy words contained within them.

We know, that’s ridiculous. We’re not really that prudish, so we’re working hard to lighten things up a bit. But Apple’s doing the opposite – it’s patented a way to stop your iPhone sending rude texts.

Well, this obviously isn’t about your iPhone. For one, you wouldn’t censor yourself. And two, you’re not the type of person to swear are you? Ok, I’ll take that as a ‘no comment’.

It’s likely that parents are the main target. They’ll be able to stop their kids from engaging in saucy sexting before they’ve come of age. And as CNET UK points out, your controlling other half might be tempted to add the software to your phone, too.

The granted patent works by checking texts before they’re sent – if they’re stuffed with mischievous vocabulary they won’t leave your outbox. An administrator could even be notified of your despicable language and give you a right good telling off. And not in a kinky way.

The system could also block incoming crude messages, but that’d be no fun at all – what drunk messages would you have to laugh at on a Saturday night? But perhaps there’s a silver lining – txtz wit bad grama cud b rujectd or curectd! Are you looking forward to the day when our text censoring overlords arrive?


If this really is aimed at parents to take more control of what their kids are sending I think Apple has underestimated children. The little bar stewards will always find a way round.

Adam Tingle says:
16 October 2010

If anything this had me want to take up Sexting.

As if kids wouldn’t find a way to work around it in seconds – censorship is rather pointless – how about education and treating them with respect – Sounds like Apple have been to Scun(t)horpe

Feel sorry for any kids that are Arsenal fans.

(and not just because of who they support :))

Gloria Edwards says:
20 October 2010

Who are Apple to set themselves up as censors
and guardian of people’s morals?


are they going to stop teens making up words too?

g8t 5ex

Roland says:
21 October 2010

“We’re not really that prude”. You mean prudish? You write like an *ss.

Mitch says:
23 October 2010

..or parents could just bring up their kids to think for themselves, giving them knowledge about the real world and a sense of responsibility.

It’s greater to bring a child up on knowledge and responsibility; rather than fear and ignorance.

Must admit that when I have had to send emails and/or documents to some companies that contain for instance the word ‘b***h’ (referring to a female dog) it gets rejected – even from some veterinary type companies!
Surely people are capable of censoring their own mail without having a ‘Big Brother’ to do it?

Oh, I see your system won’t accept it either.
Honestly, I wasn’t being rude!

I think that this exchange of messages highlights the very real problem of ‘dumb’ filters. If the filter simply does a yes/no on words it will fail the sense test for far too much of the time, professional language, place names, personal names and even parts of foreign languages will fall into the traps. I can understand Apple’s or Perhaps Steve Jobs’ problems they are showing signs of becoming very control orientated and this is simply one sign of his desires. However, language changes and with something like this creating a road block the rate of change will simply accelerate ’round the bend’. I have every expectation that it will continue to create mirth and amusement when county names and professional terms get blocked along with all the usual silly symptoms of paranoia gone mad.
In short, if you want to manage human behaviour, only a human can be expected to exercise the controls and the best placed person is the texter themselves. That may take guidance or education or responsibility but certainly not ‘Puritanical Steve’.