Why Instagram Will Never #freethenipple

Instagram has received some backlash for censoring content, but the company feels it's necessary in order to maintain its 12+ rating on the Apple App Store. Apparently, some of the less racy photos could be okay, if the app was rated for 17+. While Instagram is pointing the finger at Apple, there are a number of steps it could take to accommodate Apple and still reach a larger audience.

  1. Instagram could change the rating for its app for just 17+ and lose access to the younger crowd. It won't do this, obviously.
  2. Instagram could have a separate age verification system, within the current app, which would unlock content deemed to be suitable for adults.
  3. Split Instagram into two apps, the current one and an Instagram Pro app that might even cost $0.99 (or more) to ensure it was purchased by someone with a credit card (or iTunes gift cards.) That Pro app could be rated 17+ and offer access to the photos that otherwise might be deleted.
  4. Keep the official Instagram iOS app child friendly, and leave the web (and Android) as less restrictive.
  5. Lower the rating and let the chips fall where they may. Twitter and other sites that don't restrict content are rated 4+ so Instagram may be imposing unnecessary restrictions on itself.


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Just as Netflix lets users indicate if they are an adult so they can access more content, Apple could have a separate category of apps that only users who are verified to be 17+ could access. This walled garden approach is something I've encouraged Apple to do in the past. By letting apps like Grindr and Ashley Madison share the stage with Sesame Street, Apple is creating this problem. 

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Top image credit: Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.