Do you have adult content blocked on your iPhone or iPad?
If so, it’s likely that your iOS device is currently blocking web searches using the word “Asian.” It’s been an issue for more than a year — but it’s about to be fixed.
Mashable has confirmed that in the latest iOS 14.5 Beta, the adult content filter no longer blocks web searches containing the word “Asian.”
The issue became very apparent In the wake of the mass shooting at three Atlanta spas two weeks ago which left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian, “Stop Asian Hate” trended online. The phrase has been used as a call-to-action at and rallies as anti-Asian hate crimes in the country over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, if a user tried searching “Stop Asian Hate” on their iOS device with the adult content filter turned it, they’d find that the phrase is blocked and be shown the following prompt:
If you’re unfamiliar with the adult content issue and haven’t upgraded to the latest beta yet, you can currently recreate this issue on your iOS device and see it for yourself. Turn on your device’s adult content filter by tapping on “Screen Time” in the “Settings” option. Then, click “Content & Privacy Restrictions” followed by “Content Restrictions.” After that, there is a “Web Content” option where users can choose to “Limit Adult Websites.”
Now, try searching for “Asian food,” “Asian Americans,” “Asian history,” or even “local Asian market” in your Safari browser.
All these searches are blocked. Clearly, none of them have anything to do with adult content.
“You cannot browse this page at ‘google.com’ because it is restricted,” reads the prompt that appears after submitting the search in Safari for iOS.
It even prevents searches for just the word “Asian.”
While a user could still access the search results page by tapping “Allow Website” on the prompt in order to whitelist the page, it is an unnecessary step for content that is not in any way “adult.”
Using an iPhone with the latest iOS 14.5 Beta installed, Mashable was able to confirm that search results for terms such as “Asian,” “Asian food,” “Asian actors,” “Asian Art,” and even “Stop Asian Hate” are no longer blocked when the adult content filter is turned on.
The search results page for these terms now resolve as they should, as seen in the screenshot below:
It’s unclear exactly how long the adult content filter issue has been around, but the problem became widely known in February. A of major tech news outlets the adult content filter issue after a tweet from developer Steven Shen brought it to light.
Shen told us that Apple “said nothing officially” when he first reported the issue. The developer also said, in correspondence with Techskylight last week, that an Apple employee reached out to him over Twitter, verified the problem, and “filed the issue internally.”
Many iOS users are still coming across the issue and pointing it out on Twitter.
Google’s Liaison of Public Search Danny Sullivan even in a recent discussion of the issue in order to make clear that Apple, and not the search engine company, is responsible for how the iOS adult content filter works.
Following the Atlanta shooting, the history of the hypersexualization of Asian women was thrust into the spotlight. Apple devices filtering the ultra-generic term “Asian as “adult content” would seem to be based on and perpetuate this problematic trope.
It appeared especially urgent that Apple address this issue now, and the company now has.
If you’re an Apple device user who doesn’t want to wait until the public release, you can follow this guide to upgrade to the latest iOS 14.5 Beta right now.