Apple bans cosmetic surgery apps targeting children

Holli Rubin, representative for Anybody UK.
Holli Rubin, representative for Anybody UK. Photo: AnybodyUK

Apple has banned cosmetic surgery apps that target children in response to an international campaign of eight petitions, signed by more than 154,000 people.

The apps were removed in April, however, a statement from Anybody UK - the lobby group who petitioned Apple, Google and Amazon - says it has only now 'declared victory' after a period had elapsed where it is now confident the ban is permanent.

"Although we were pleased to see that these cosmetic surgery "games" in Apple's app store were removed, we were reluctant to declare victory because, over the last four years, Apple would swiftly remove flagged apps but new ones would quickly take their place.

As our petition was focused on companies creating an official policy, we wanted to be confident that the absence of cosmetic surgery apps for kids in Apple's app store was a permanent change."

It's a move that Google and Amazon have yet to follow, despite Apple making an official announcement in April and holding up the ban ever since.

A spokesperson for Apple said in April, "We do not want nor allow these types of apps on the store. We have rules in place against these apps and do not offer them on the App Store."

Anybody says it has spent the last two years trying to open a dialogue with Apple on the subject of app policy, however the tech giant characteristically declined to engage despite the affirmative action taken. Google and Amazon have also ignored the group's call to action, but it hopes that will soon change.

"...With Apple now leading by example, we are hopeful that Google and Amazon will follow suit in the name of protecting their youngest users from harm," the group wrote.

It urged people to acknowledge Apple on social media, along with a message of thanks for the thousands who signed the petition. "Your action has also helped protect children from harmful messages about cosmetic surgery and body hate. The absence of these apps is a positive step in the right direction, worthy of celebration."