Apple’s Safari doesn’t allow people to search the word ‘Asian’, but why?

Apple’s Safari doesn’t allow people to search the word ‘Asian’, but why?
It is just as confusing as it sounds. We’ll preface this by saying that you probably haven’t, and won’t encounter the issue if you don’t have kids. Although, who are we to judge...

Apple’s iOS, iPadOS and MacOS devices have a filter, which blocks inappropriate content, so it wouldn’t pop up at the wrong time, and make your “how to…” tutorial session with your parents extra awkward.

That’s a brilliant feature. However, it might be too “good”. A number of users have reported that not only the Limit Adult Content feature stops your access to adult content websites and searches, but it also stops you from searching for things with the world ‘Asian’ in them, as reported by Mashable.

...

Challenge accepted. I hope no one is looking at my search history, because it’s about to become weird(er).

The problem


I went into settings and enabled the Limit Adult Websites option on my iPhone. My iCloud account (I assume), synced my preferences, so the settings appeared on my iPad too. That’s the time to say that both devices are on the latest version of their respective operating systems.

As you can see on the screenshots, the results were consistent. Not only wasn't I able to search for ‘Asian women’ or ‘Asian men’, but I also wasn’t able to search for the ‘Stop Asian hate’ movement, which is a shame.


If you want to turn the feature on or off, here’s how to do it:

  1. Settings
  2. Screen time
  3. Content & Privacy Restrictions
  4. Content Restrictions
  5. Web Content
  6. Choose the desired option

I wanted to make sure it’s not just Safari, so I went onto Chrome and Opera on my iPhone. Google’s browser seems to take its cues from iOS and Safari, and behaves similarly (on iPhone). On the other hand, Opera was able to open the website just fine. By the way, as you can see below, Chrome has a similar feature - Safe Browsing for “dangerous websites”. Its features are rather vague.


My iPad followed the iPhone’s command and it didn’t let me search for any Asian-related phrases/sentences, no matter how innocent they were (Asian elephants, for example). In fact, simply searching for ‘Asian’ came up with… nothing.


The cherry on the top was Safari on Mac, which… well, take a look for yourself:


The solution


There’s an option to set exceptions for certain websites (not words). I tried to do that, and it seems to work, although it causes some crashes in Safari. In fact, Apple’s browser went crazy when I tried to turn the feature on and off so I can test it out.

If you want to use the option for exceptions to the rule, bear in mind that you have to type in your corresponding location extension for the Google website - .com/.co.uk/.de, etc. Safari on my iPhone defaults to the German Google (I’m currently in Germany), so it didn’t work when I first tried to set it up. Therefore, your location settings might play a role as well - check those.


The real solution


Apparently, Apple is aware of the issue, which was first reported more than a year ago! The latest beta of iOS 14.5 seems to have taken care of the problem.

We haven’t tested this, since the beta is only available to developers at the moment, but we’ll let you know if the issue is fixed, when we get to test iOS 14.5.

All in all, this is a big mix-up for the millions of users, who use Safari. Not to mention, Chrome users. Furthermore, the socio-cultural impact of this bug might feel more significant in a time of social unrest in the USA. Outside of that, it’s needless to say how many people it concerns, in general. We hope Apple is going to take care of the bug very soon.

In the end, this has been a bizarre day in the office for me. Part of my job was to look for adult content. How many people can say that...

I’m going to delete my search history now.

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