Skip to main content

iOS Goes XXX: Messages App Shows Adult GIFs

With the revamped Messages app in iOS 10, Apple has made it easier than ever to find GIFs to include with your text messages — even if those GIFs aren't always something you'd want to share with another person.

In Messages, you can now text GIFs by tapping the Apps icon next to the message field and selecting Images from the available apps. A gallery of GIFs will appear, and you can enter in search terms to find one that fits your message, with results powered by Microsoft's Bing.

MORE: iOS 10 Review: A Promising Update That Needs More Apps

It's a welcome addition, if you really dig GIFs, but it apparently still needs some fine-tuning to keep out inappropriate images. Deadspin was the first to spot a very Not Safe For Work GIF that appeared when searching for "butt," featuring one of the characters from My Little Pony doing something quite explicit, especially for a children's TV program. Another search for "huge" turned up something even more graphic. (You can read the Deadspin story here, but it contains the explicit images.)

Messages had filters for GIFs in place — searches for assorted dirty words or terms like "sex" don't yield any results. Since Deadspin's report, "butt" and "huge" have been filtered out, too.

I spent a few soul-crushing minutes tapping in seemingly harmless that could double as euphemisms into the GIF search tool of Messages, but didn't spot anything that would raise any eyebrows. (My search history is now a horror show, however.) That's not to say that the problem won't crop up again, though, or that Apple and Microsoft really need to tighten up the filtering on searches.

It also shows the challenges Apple faces as it tries to open up iOS from the walled-off OS it's been in the past. In addition to GIFs, Messages now features stickers and apps, though those are presumably subject to the same oversight as the iOS App Store. Siri and Maps have also been opened up to third-party developers. You're unlikely to encounter something as explicit as the GIFs that appeared in Messages with those apps, but all this openness does mean Apple will have to take a more active role in making sure the newfound features in its OS are safe for a general audience.