Errors in The Sydney Morning Herald’s technology articles

BeautyMeters App Store description

BeautyMeter's App Store description

If you’ve ever seen ABC’s Media Watch, you’ll be well aware of the rapidly declining online journalism standards here in Australia. On more than a few occasions, I’ve noticed errors and omissions in The Sydney Morning Herald‘s technology news and I thought it was important to share them here. Obviously, the internet isn’t (nor should it be) error-free. It’s full of mistakes – I’ve made dozens here at The Green Room, and a fair few of them could have been avoided with a little more fact-checking and clarification. It’s the nature of blogs and it’ll remain that way for the foreseeable future. That said, it’s more important for online news sites to ensure that their pieces have been thoroughly checked before publication. They, above all other sources, are the most trusted for news on the internet. Essentially, I don’t want to bash the Australian media, but these mistakes are at the point of frustration for me.

Being a somewhat ‘Apple oriented’ blog, I’ve only looked at articles that cover Apple news and rumors, the latest of which regards the controversy over an application available on the App Store. BeautyMeter is a “Hot or Not” style app. It briefly showed child pornography that was uploaded by one of it’s users recently. There are several issues I have with the article.

iPhone app disabled after teen porn appears

Apple doesn’t “disable” third party applications. The app was removed.

Explicit photographs of girls purportedly as young as 15 were distributed to iPhone users in a controverisal new racy app that was approved by Apple.

The line has been phrased inaccurately – the photo was only ‘distributed’ to iPhone users who had downloaded and installed the BeautyMeter app. Furthermore, the app became available in mid-April. I’d hardly call that “new”. Finally, the app was approved by Apple, but the line’s once again phrased misleadingly – Apple approved the app before any explicit photos appeared on the application, and once an app is approved it is only subject to further scrutiny by Apple if the developer updates the app or Apple finds a clear terms of use violation, which in this case it did after the content was added.

The BeautyMeter app was available for download today despite the apparent child pornography, however, the app would not launch, with a message saying “the item you tried to buy is no longer available”.

If the article’s description is accurate, then he was unable to download the application. While the application’s description page and download link was probably still available after the article was published, the actual file was removed before then. The application didn’t launch because it wasn’t downloaded in the first place. As written, the item he tried to buy was no longer available, so it’s inaccurate to write that it was still available to download or that it wouldn’t launch.

Developer Funnymals or Apple should be able to trace the person who uploaded the offending images

Funnymals can trace the person uploading the images because sign-up is required to use the app and upload images, but Apple can’t. BeautyMeter wasn’t made by Apple – like all (except three) of more than fifty thousand apps on the App Store, Apple has very limited control over how the application operates once it’s been accepted onto the App Store, so it would be extremely difficult for Apple to trace whoever uploaded them.

The original article can be found here. – r.

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