Thoughts and ideas from C-Trax
Google Play Tightens Guidelines Regarding App Content
June 17, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by C-Trax

At Cannatrax, we make a point to stay current on the latest trends, and one of the most recent involves Google. The search engine giant recently updated its Play Store policies to take a more firm stance on any apps that feature things like loot boxes, marijuana, hate speech, and sex.

One major driver for this policy tightening is due to Google's attempts to try and protect young minds from getting negatively influenced by the games and apps they happen across while they browse the Play Store.

It's up to the developers to clearly define their target age groups within the Play Console. And Google's Designed for Families policies will take effect when an app developer targets minors in their age groups.

Common issues or violations that could cause trouble for apps include: 

  • Apps that target children on their app store listing but have app content that is suitable only for adults
  • Apps that attempt to glamorize the use of controlled substances, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Apps that use APIs and have terms of service that prohibit the apps from being listed in a child-direct way
  • Apps that feature simulated or real gambling
  • Apps that have shocking content that isn't child-appropriate or includes gore and violence
  • Apps that display mature ads
  • Apps that offer marital advice, offer dating services, or offer sexual advice

Any loot boxes featured in apps are getting several more restrictions. Developer that feature in-game loot boxes now have to disclose the odds of winning and getting the advertised items before someone buys them.

Google is also cracking down on hate speech, sexual content, and marijuana for all apps. Outright banning apps for mimicking marijuana sales is controversial since it is technically legal in some states. Also, banning access for legitimate medicinal use is a huge murky area.

Common and current violations revolving around marijuana include: 

  • Promoting the sale of THC laced products
  • Letting users order marijuana through the app using a shopping cart
  • Helping app users arrange to pick up or deliver marijuana or THC products

Google is also taking aim at what it will and won't allow under sexually explicit content. Past things that have received bans include apps that gave examples of "sex acts" and the "promotional images of sex toys." However, it's now updated the restrictions to include: 

  • Profane or lewd content
  • Content that describes or depicts fetishes or sexual aids
  • Animations, depictions, or illustrations of sexually aggressive poses or sex acts
  • Depictions featuring nudity where the subject is minimally clothed or completely nude, and this also extends to clothing that isn't appropriate to wear in public

Finally, we have hate speech. It remains one of the biggest problems around the world, and several governments are applying pressure to address it. Google stepped in and put measures in place to ban and control the following types of hate speech:

  • Speech or content that tries to encourage other app users to believe that people should be discriminated against or hated because they identify as a member of a protected group
  • Apps that promote the  theory that protected groups possess negative characteristics, or the app claims that this protected group as a whole is a problem or threat
  • Assertions that intend to prove that a protected group is worthy of being hated, inhuman, or inferior

By laying down these new regulations and rules, Google is actively working to solve the biggest problems that have been around the app store for years. In turn, the app store can become a safer place for people to browse.