Apple Releases Anti-Sexting Technology

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“Sexting”, the act of sending sexually explicit text messages via mobile phone , could very well be a thing of the past when Apple’s recently-awarded patent hits the market.

The technology, which allows a phone’s administrator to prevent an iPhone from sending out or receiving an SMS harbouring a specified range of content, will either block or automatically edit any material pre-determined to be objectionable.

What makes Apple’s technology unique is the reported ability of the program to intuitively filter content, even abbreviated words, based on the phone-user’s grade level.

In the patent document, Apple claims that the need for such technology is long overdue and not provided by current efforts to hamper sexting activity. Such methods now include: only allowing users to communicate with a pre-set list of contacts via SMS and e-mail, programs that only block certain expletives – which has proven largely limiting and ineffective because it does not address the overall content of that particular communication, and the lack the technology to match the level of offensiveness with the user’s age and morality.

With this new development, parents will possess the means to prevent their kids from engaging in sexting or receiving unwanted messages of that type.

In addition, use of the text-recognition capabilities of the program can be extended to allow for educational purposes such as the study of foreign languages – ie. encouraging the child to send a certain percentage of text messages in the prescribed language(s), or requiring children to correct any spelling, punctuation or grammatical mistakes before sending a message.

Ways to circumvent the system, however, do exist. Currently, the program’s capabilities do not extend to blocking explicit images, and seem to only work through the iPhone’s proprietary text-messaging app. It is unclear whether the capability extends to text-messaging apps created by other developers, some of which let users send text messages without incurring charges from their mobile carriers.

And given the inherent ingenuity of teens, TechCrunch blogger Alexia Tsosis wrote that “those interesting in ‘sexting’ will probably find some clever workaround  to express how much they want to bang, screw, hit it or a myriad of other words that don’t immediately set off the censorship sensors.”

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