As Steve Jobs Moves Out, Will Porn Move In?

Although Steve Jobs will certainly be missed in the world of technology, I doubt the porn industry is shedding any tears with the news of his departure.

There is no doubt that porn’s availability has suffered at the hand of Jobs, who has declared himself suitable to define, judge, and censor the pornographic content of Apple’s apps. But as Tim Cook prepares to take over from Jobs, he should be aware that society is becoming more savvy about sexual expression. Recent scientific research is also busting the myth that porn incites sexual violence (and suggests porn might even deter such aggression), and sex-positive and feminist porn directors can be excellent employers.

With Jobs on his way out, there’s never been a better time for Apple’s policies to change. But are such changes possible?

Unlike the intuitive Jobs, Cook is touted as being down-to-earth, so he might well hold more grounded views about these matters. By changing Apple’s stance, he might placate countless users who have objected to Jobs’s censorship, which has not only been applied to porn, but also to queer politics — for proof, check out the company’s censorship of Lady Gaga’s queer-friendly tweets. Jobs uses the word “moral” to describe Apple’s anti-porn policies, while suggesting their censorship keeps porn away from children. This implies that he rather than parents and guardians should take responsibility for this — a move that makes Apple sound like the moral guardians of the world. Such attitudes and behaviors are especially troubling considering Apple’s clout as an industry role-model.

If Cook continues to censor porn in the App Store, he will surely require a system for deciding what is pornographic, and we need only look at the failure of the Porn Detection Stick (a USB that was intended to detect porn on computers) to witness how blurry the lines can be. It would be refreshing if Apple used their power to contribute positively to the porn world — rather than condemning it — to encourage debate, promote fairness, and enable sex-positive porn to thrive.

But even if Tim Cook perpetuates Jobs’s policies on porn, let’s hope he proves less hypocritical. Witness that Jobs has not removed the Playboy app from the Apple store, arguing that Playboy is a “reputable” company. Where is his detailed research into what constitutes “reputable” companies? I, for one, would like to read it.