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What Parents Need To Know About iOS10 Apple Messenger App

What Parents Need To Know About iOS10 Apple Messenger App

imessage-icon-ios-7The latest update to Apple Messages iOS10 has a problem, it now has adult images available within it. Apple are trying to fix it, but in the meantime if your child is using the latest version of the mobile Apple operating system, iOS10 you need to pay attention to the changes and additions within the new version of the default messaging app.

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iOS10 Apple Messenger Now Has add-on apps like Facebook Messenger

With the latest update to Apple mobile device software iOS10 comes a new version of Apple’s Messenger app. The Messenger app now works very much the same way as Facebook Messenger does, where you can now add mobile games, effects and “Stickers” and GIFs (Images – both static and moving) to messages. You can also now send an animated heartbeat, a kiss and a disappearing type message (not like Snapchat, more like magic ink) and a lot more. Apple Messenger iOS10 now has a default GIF search engine app as an add-on to the usual messaging app emoticons. You can now search for a GIF within Apple Messenger and send it as a message to anyone in your contacts. There are millions of GIFs on the internet now, from cats doing funny things to cartoons to celebrities pulling funny faces. And some of them are very adult or even pornographic.

So far, since the recent release of iOS10 there have been several reports in the media of inappropriate GIFs being found in the new Apple Messenger default app menu. If you search within the default GIF tab, you might find inappropriate images, some porn and some images with swear words or nasty messages written on them. I did a search for “Cat” in the GIF app provided by default within Apple Messager, and found a cartoon of a cat with the “F” word written across it.

Why Is This Happening?

The GIF search engine within Apple Messenger appears to be powered by Microsofts Bing search, and probably uses Bing’s Search engine of GIFs. So Apple probably cannot remove the inappropriate GIFs from Bing’s search results within Apple Messengers Image search engine as such, but only the search terms tagged on the inappropriate GIFs. Normally within a browser using Bing Search you can set Bing’s default safe search option in the settings, but as this search is happening within the Apple messaging app this is not possible.

According to some reports, Apple is quickly banning search terms that bring up inappropriate images, and not just the obvious ones. One report said that a young girl put the search term “Huge” into the messaging GIF search bar, and the search results brought up a pornographic image. On checking the search term “huge” now within the GIF search bar the term has been disabled.

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Why Can’t They Simply Ban All The Bad Search Terms?

What happens on other apps like Instagram, is that innocent #searchterms get hijacked from time to time by people sharing pornography. Instagram then disables the search term for a time and removes the adult content, then will often return the search term after a few days. Recently on Instagram #catsofinstagram got hijacked by porn, when you searched for #catsofinstagram video porn was scattered within the cat pictures and videos. The search term (hashtag) was then banned for a time, but as that terms is one of the most popular search terms and accounts on Instagram they enabled it again….until the next time (which is why Instagram is NOT suitable for kids!)

Can You Report Nasty Images?

I cannot see an option within Apple Messenger Image/GIF search app to report any porn images back to Apple.

What Can Parents Do To Make Messenger Safe Again?

You cannot remove Apple Messenger from mobile devices, you can disable it in the Messenger Settings, “General Settings” “Messages” switch off iMessage and MMS Messaging, which means your child cannot receive or send any SMS or iMessages at all. However as one smart cookie on my original Facebook post pointed out in the comments, you can delete the new add on apps like “Images” in the Messenger app menu.

To remove the “Images” GIF app and others

1. Click the A symbol next to the message input bar  2. Slide bottom window across to the right until you see all the the GIF’s  3. Click the 4 dots bottom left to bring up the messenger app window.  4. Hold your finger down on the “images” icon until it shakes and then touch the small x to delete it. Hit the home button bottom of the mobile device to stop the apps jiggling.

To see what else is enabled and to re-enable the “Image” app again, go back to the app menu as before, and Click the blue + “Store” icon and then click the Manage bar top right. You should see a list of all the apps that can be enabled to use messenger. Switch off any you don’t want your child to use so that they are showing white not green.

How To Disable Gif Menu In Apple Messenger
How To Disable Gif Menu In Apple Messenger

 

How To Prevent Re-enabling And Installing Messenger Apps

To make sure your children cannot enable the default Images/GIF app again go to

1. “General Settings” on your phone then down to  2. “Restrictions” set a pass code and scroll down to  3. “installing apps” and toggle the slider to the left so that it is white not green. Note: Your child will not be able to download any apps to their device now unless you reverse this restriction and allow download.

Exit out of the menu back to your home screen and these settings will be set. To allow installation of apps, repeat the same action to get to “Restrictions” and reverse all the settings.

Disable App Installation on Apple Devices
Disable App Installation on Apple Devices

 

It would be helpful if Apple had a new setting in “Restrictions” to disable these messenger add-on’s rather than having to go through this work around. Due to the press around this ramping up, I’m pretty sure they will.

Edit: Question from a reader, can you prevent others from sending these GIF’s to you or your child. Answer: Not without disabling iMessage by switching off iMessage and disabling SMS in the Messenger settings of the phone.

Below is a really nice overview of all the new features within Apples new iOS10 Messenger from ZolloTech’s Channel on YouTube. The Images/GIF’s and some of the games and apps are seem to be the only new features to watch out for.

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