Apple taking risks with ‘Porncasts’ ?

Following an iLounge editorial on the same topic last month, The Wall Street Journal’s Vauhini Vara has written an article [paid sub. req.] on the adult-oriented podcasts that can found in Apple’s iTunes directory. The podcasts, which some call “porncasts,” are packed with “raunchy sex banter, erotic storytelling sessions and reviews of pornographic websites,” Vara notes. Some industry experts say Apple is taking a big risk in accepting such content from amateurs. “Apple needs to be careful to protect its brand here,” says Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. “The editorial function is just getting more and more important.”

“As podcasting reaches a more mainstream audience, the more risque audio shows—and Apple’s role in distributing them—could come under greater scrutiny,” reports Vara. “Apple declined to say whether any of its users have complained about the adult podcasts, which can be downloaded by anyone regardless of age. The company said it could potentially pull programs that it deems too explicit, but declined to say whether it has done so yet.”

Podcasters who submit their shows to iTunes are asked to mark their podcasts “explicit” during the submission process if they discuss adult material. However, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company has no official guidelines for adult content and does not review every podcast submission. “She said Apple tries to review as many submissions as it can for ‘really obvious’ adult content,” Vara reports. “Listeners can click on a button marked ‘Report a Concern’ if they feel that a podcast isn’t marked as explicit and should be. ‘If for some reason we miss it, customers usually catch it,’ Ms. Kerris said.”

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