One man is suing the tech giant for introducing him to the evils of porn. The rest of us seem okay with it.
One pleasantly deranged man named Chris Sevier from Tennessee just filed a lawsuit against Apple for making him a slave to the flesh. The lawsuit, which reads like a hyperbolic fever rant, demands that Apple sell all of its products on “safe mode” with software preset to filter out any pornographic material. Sevier then suggests if the purchaser of the Apple product is over 18, they should be able to purchase their own porny-code to access all the good, “indecent” materials that the internet is rife with. He blames Apple for sex trafficking, sex addiction, and destroying countless lives (maybe that was just Justin Long).
Sevier said it all started when he went to check Facebook with his newly purchased Macbook and misspelled it as “fuckbook” (Mavis Beacon was disappointed in him). After that, he didn’t want to sleep with his wife, he frequented strip clubs, and began to jones for porn around the clock. He’s asking for Apple to block porn initially on all products, or else he will proceed with the suit. While the lawsuit is rich with inanity and nonsequiturs and I can’t really take it seriously, it does underlie a new trend I am seeing as of late. People are throwing a lot of responsibility and control on tech companies in regards to their personal (okay, sex) lives. If Sevier was looking to curb his onanist tendencies, he could have just installed the increasingly popular porn-blockers like Porn Blocker or Net Nanny. I also know of a band of decidedly-non-masturbating men over at r/No Fap who would welcome him with open arms, but he decided to go straight to the source to complain. Or, maybe, if we’re thinking clearly, it’s not the source—Steve Jobs was straightforward and vocal about his opposition to porn back in 2010.
Accompanying this lawsuit is another viral piece this week: Apple’s “kill list”, items that Apple Products won’t happily correct if you spell them incorrectly while using their latest software. According to The Daily Beast, among these suspect words are, “abortion,” “abort,” “rape,” “bullet,” “drunken,” “pornography”, “suicide”, “marijuana,” “abduct,” “arouse,” “prostitute” “murder,” and “virginity.” Clearly, if Mr. Sevier was working with iOS software, most of his searches had to be made with deliberate keyboarding. The fact is, we rely on our phones to do the long-hand for us, and the more we lean on technology even as simple as auto-correction, the more the standards of the technology will dictate what we access. Just last year, Apple’s beloved app Siri was under fire for not understanding requests to find abortion clinics or birth control providers. While Apple cannot force anything into our lives, it would seem it can direct us with soft, omitting nudges.
Though these new complaints regarding iOS' selective dictionary are legitimate, Sevier’s lawsuit seems so absurd because he’s calling for a censorship that’s entirely too explicit, one that British Parliament just announced might soon take effect in England. But what of censorships that are slight and implicit? Apple and tech giants like it certainly have influence, whether it’s providing the pleasant agency of dating and sex apps, insidiously forbidding your requests and banning apps with nudity, or full-out turning you into an arousal junkie a la Sevier. It's an impact we won't fully understand possibly for years, but as long as we're holding iPhones, we will willingly participate.
And don’t worry, the half-problem half-blessing is only going to get worse. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 20% of people ages 18 to 34 use their smartphones during sex. During sex. So much for tech companies staying out of our personal lives; we’re practically inviting Apple into our bed.