According to The Verge, Apple’s safe-search web content filter has been obstructing any searches using the word “Asian” for nearly a year now, if the “Limit Adult Websites” restriction setting is enabled on a device. The internet caught wind of it just over a month ago, and the error has been used as a springboard into important conversations concerning the fetishisation of people based on ethnicity since. Now, Mashable reports that the glitch is being patched out in the newest edition of iOS.
The beta version of Apple’s iOS 14.5 released for developers last week, with a public release scheduled for later this year. In the current version of iOS, the aforementioned content filter (should it be enabled) filters out any content with the word “Asian” in its URL. That includes Asian food, Asian restaurants, Asian business, etc.
The issue has become increasingly obvious in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Atlanta which left eight people dead. Six of the victims were Asian, which sparked the ongoing “Stop Asian Hate” movement online. It’s clear that the content filter error would make seeking out information surrounding the movement and the incident itself online on Apple mobile devices harder.
Mashable kitted out an iPhone with the iOS 14.5 Beta and confirmed that it could search for “Asian”, “Asian food”, and “Stop Asian Hate” sans obstruction with the content filter still enabled.
Granted, before the fix the content filter only required that you tap an “Allow Website” prompt when the restriction flag popped up to access a site or search anyway. But when a safe-search feature is flagging “Asian” as an inappropriate or explicit term, people’s distress is caused by more than the minor inconvenience caused by it. Thankfully, the issue shouldn’t be around for iOS users much longer.