Apple filtering certain words from iCloud emails

Companies which handle your personal email are in a unique position. Almost single-handedly, they handle most of your work and home communication, and you have to trust them to keep your data safe. Microsoft has recently been hitting out at Google - and vice versa - for their practise of reading the text of your emails to target adverts, a divisive issue as Google claims they do not interpret the emails, they simply look for keywords. 

A report by MacWorld has found that Apple permanently deletes iCloud emails which contain the phrase "barely legal teens". Rather than just dumping messages with such content into the spam folder, iCloud refuses to receive them. Not only does Apple check email text, it also checks attachments which include zipped documents. "Barely legal teens" is just one phrase out of an unknown number, as Apple's filter system is totally opaque to the user - the only effective way to find out would be to try various combinations of words until one didn't get delivered. 

This calls into question the reliability of Apple's email service, as there is no way to check if your email passed through Apple's filtering system and onto the recipient. If emails are found to contain the phrase, they're deleted with no trace. Apple says that if a user sends an email and it isn't delivered, they should contact AppleCare. However, MacWorld sources indicate that Apple staff cannot recover lost emails.

Of course, Apple could just be being helpful and trying to filter out the huge amount of spam that many email users receive on a day-to-day basis - a theory John Gruber suggests is true. Companies such as Google and Microsoft manage to filter out spam messages without having to completely delete emails in the process. Apple is known for censoring content, however. The App Store currently holds no pornography-related applications, with 500px's app being removed because of adult-themed images (the 500px app has been republished, now with a 17+ rating).

Source: MacWorld

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Any cloud service says in its' EULA pretty clearly: it's NOT your data, WE can do whatever we want and MAXIMUM liability is 5 USD.

Not good if indeed true. I say that because I just tested it and the message came though just fine (from a known and unknown e-mail address).

so... Apple is censoring stuff for you and you can't control it.... great... if you are going to do something like that, you need to at least make it public you do that

neufuse said,
so... Apple is censoring stuff for you and you can't control it.... great... if you are going to do something like that, you need to at least make it public you do that

You know exactly why they'll say that won't happen.
'we release a list of banned words and the spammers will change them to words not on the list'.
You really can't ever win.

The sick thing here is that if Google pulled the same stunt they would be blasted three ways from Sunday, yet Apple doing this, it'll either get swept under the carpet or the iSheep won't care. Maybe it's just the users fault as they are "sending the emails the wrong way"?

thancock said,
The sick thing here is that if Google pulled the same stunt they would be blasted three ways from Sunday, yet Apple doing this, it'll either get swept under the carpet or the iSheep won't care. Maybe it's just the users fault as they are "sending the emails the wrong way"?

Well, clearly it's not happening because people here are testing it. And you're talking crap. iSheep don't exist. It's a schoolyard level insult made up by fanboys who hate Apple because they can't afford the products and are jealous and angry. Now get out of here.

I was recently testing a Cisco Ironport device in work and sent emails from both my iCloud and Hotmail account containing words and phrases like "buy Viagra for a big p*nis."

Interestingly, they never even hit the Ironport. Seemingly they were filtered at source. 'Normal' emails from the same iCloud and Hotmail accounts were received instantly.

I just emailed my @me account with an email that just said "Barely legal teens" from an alternate email and it came through fine.

If love to test this further. Anyone email me at benjy91@me.com with the words "Barely legal teens" and I'll see if they go through. Let me know if you do so I can check.

McKay said,
If love to test this further. Anyone email me at benjy91@me.com with the words "Barely legal teens" and I'll see if they go through. Let me know if you do so I can check.

Now you've done it... prepare for an ever growing wave of spam...

jasondefaoite said,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjyrqVgWPXY

Looking back at the 1984 ad, Apple looking and operating more and more like the kind of company they fought against back then.

Slippery slope.

Fought against? That's what the company wished they could be, they were using that message against IBM only hoping one day they could be the same. Prophecy fulfilled.

It's a terrible precedent to set - it's worrying that they're looking into emails - but it's for the right reasons. Child porn is gross.

So I'm divided on this one. As long as it stays to filtering out child porn (or things close to it - "barely legal" is a grey area, for sure), I think it's alright, but the moment this goes further than that Apple's going to have a riot on their hands.

Simon said,
It's a terrible precedent to set - it's worrying that they're looking into emails - but it's for the right reasons. Child porn is gross.

So I'm divided on this one. As long as it stays to filtering out child porn (or things close to it - "barely legal" is a grey area, for sure), I think it's alright, but the moment this goes further than that Apple's going to have a riot on their hands.

barely legal teens is not child porn.

It has nothing to do with child porn, It has to do with spam filtering. By default iCloud moves spam to the junk mail folder for the first 30 days or so (so you can train the filter) after that time elapses, there is an option that appears on screen (in a dialog) to automatically delete junk mail.

McKay said,
It's not child porn. Barely legal teens are women who have only just turned 18. Look at the words again.

And they're some of the most fun girls

Take another look at my comment. I'm aware that it's "barely legal", but that's pretty damn close. It's a sketchy grey area, if you're looking for porn that's *almost* illegal.

I wouldn't call it a grey area. Its either illegal or legal. Is it sketchy to get drunk at a party the day you become old enough to legally drink? Is it sketchy to drive at the speed limit?