In the never-ending battle of the technological titans, score one for Steve Jobs. No, the CEO of Apple hasn’t come out with yet another groundbreaking iProduct, at least not since the iPad.
But he’s done something even more extraordinary—he’s brought good values into the mix.
Jobs has made it clear that he wants to keep pornography off Apple products as much as possible. Obviously Apple can’t control everything its users do, but it can make porn scarcer on its products, and it has done just that.
A British newspaper, The Guardian, reports, “So insistent is Apple [on this policy], many magazine publishers developing ‘apps’ for the new iPad . . . have had to self-censor.”
As you might expect, this has triggered a frenzy among some critics. Ryan Tate, a writer for the Gawker website, sniped at Jobs about suppressing his customers’ “freedom,” prompting Jobs to respond, “Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom.”
When Tate replied that he didn’t want “freedom from porn,” Jobs answered, “You might care more about porn when you have kids.” In a correspondence with a consumer, Jobs went even further, speaking of his company’s “moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.”
How refreshing it is to see someone who actually gets it—that yes, there are those of us who prefer to be free from the storm of smut that assaults us from every television, computer, and phone screen. The supply of pornographic material is so overwhelming that access to it is certainly not an issue of “freedom” anymore, if it ever was.
Jobs has pointed out that people who want to see porn on their phones, and who want easier access to it on their computers, can easily get all they want if they buy other companies’ products. But as he said in a press conference, “That’s a place we don’t want to go—so we’re not going to go there.”
What Jobs seems to understand, and what his critics seem to be ignoring, is that there’s so much more to pornography than just issues of economics or free speech. It shouldn’t even need to be explained, but apparently for some people it does: Pornography is an ugly, poisonous, degrading business for everyone involved, whether they’re making it, using it, or selling it.
As my colleague Kim Moreland recently mentioned on our blog, The Point, new studies are demonstrating yet again just how dangerous and addictive it can be. It tears at the fabric of marriages and families and of society itself. Its use is connected from everything to higher divorce rates to human trafficking to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Aside from the occasional reference to protecting kids (which is enough), Steve Jobs didn’t go thoroughly into the reasons for his policy. But for whatever reason, he truly is demonstrating corporate responsibility, the kind that we desperately need more businesses to show in this sex-obsessed society.
May he continue to stand by his principles, and may his tribe increase.