Apple's New Feature That Scans Messages for Nude Photos is Only for Children, Parental Notifications Limited to Kids Under 13

Apple today announced a series of new child safety initiatives that are coming alongside the latest iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey updates and that are aimed at keeping children safer online.

iphone communication safety feature arned
One of the new features, Communication Safety, has raised privacy concerns because it allows Apple to scan images sent and received by the Messages app for sexually explicit content, but Apple has confirmed that this is an opt-in feature limited to the accounts of children and that it must be enabled by parents through the Family Sharing feature.

If a parent turns on Communication Safety for the Apple ID account of a child, Apple will scan images that are sent and received in the Messages app for nudity. If nudity is detected, the photo will be automatically blurred and the child will be warned that the photo might contain private body parts.

"Sensitive photos and videos show the private body parts that you cover with bathing suits," reads Apple's warning. "It's not your fault, but sensitive photos and videos can be used to hurt you."

The child can choose to view the photo anyway, and for children that are under the age of 13, parents can opt to get a notification if their child clicks through to view a blurred photo. "If you decide to view this, your parents will get a notification to make sure you're OK," reads the warning screen.

These parental notifications are optional and are only available when the child viewing the photo is under the age of 13. Parents cannot be notified when a child between the ages of 13 and 17 views a blurred photo, though children that are between those ages will still see the warning about sensitive content if Communication Safety is turned on.

Communication Safety cannot be enabled on adult accounts and is only available for users that are under the age of 18, so adults do not need to worry about their content being scanned for nudity.

Parents need to expressly opt in to Communication Safety when setting up a child's device with Family Sharing, and it can be disabled if a family chooses not to use it. The feature uses on-device machine learning to analyze image attachments and because it's on-device, the content of an iMessage is not readable by Apple and remains protected with end-to-end encryption.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Ursadorable Avatar
10 months ago

I feel like those images are as disturbing, if not more disturbing, than unsolicited nudes for young children.
What about pictures of an old man sniffing little girls hair? Those are disturbing, but the media keeps posting them.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
eatrains Avatar
10 months ago

Looks like Apple is being very transparent about it now.

Apple's warning. "It's not your fault, but sensitive photos and videos can be used to hurt you."

What in the world does that even mean? Don't take sensitive photos/videos?
They were never not transparent. It's not Apple's fault irresponsible and uninformed reporters spread misinformation.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
10 months ago
A lot of folks suddenly panicking today over Apple giving parents a tool to protect young children from predators.



Attachment Image
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclo Avatar
10 months ago

Looks like Apple is being very transparent about it now.

Apple's warning. "It's not your fault, but sensitive photos and videos can be used to hurt you."

What in the world does that even mean? Don't take sensitive photos/videos?
Not sure there's any ambiguity in Apple's alert. It's clearly warning children against nude photos sent by or requested by predatory adults.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
antiprotest Avatar
10 months ago

This makes NO sense to me. This is the kind of feature that has the potential for false positives/negatives and it’s impossible to draw the line. So apple decided to draw the line at, letting 10yos open explicit images but it can alert their parents, but a 13yo can do the same and it will alert nobody. What the hell is going on at apple? Who is making these decisions and why have they not been fired before any of these stupid announcements?
Well, as the Apple workers said when they complained about going back to the office, they did some of their "best work" while working from home last year. So you're probably seeing some of that "best work". More to come I'm sure.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
InGen Avatar
10 months ago
Bravo Apple ?? a lot of the negative comments about privacy from people who didn’t read the fine print on who this applies to and how it applies. This isn’t Apple wanting to go through your private photos or intercepting your private messages. This is a seemingly well implemented utilisation of onboard machine learning and algorithmic pattern recognition done in a very anonymous way to link known questionable content with a warning, that’s all. There’s no event recording or reporting to external sources or databases, it’s simply an on-device hash recognition that triggers a warning within parental features for children accounts, that’s all!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Child Safety Feature yellow

Apple Removes All References to Controversial CSAM Scanning Feature From Its Child Safety Webpage [Updated]

Wednesday December 15, 2021 1:53 am PST by
Apple has quietly nixed all mentions of CSAM from its Child Safety webpage, suggesting its controversial plan to detect child sexual abuse images on iPhones and iPads may hang in the balance following significant criticism of its methods. Apple in August announced a planned suite of new child safety features, including scanning users' iCloud Photos libraries for Child Sexual Abuse Material...
apple privacy

Apple Publishes FAQ to Address Concerns About CSAM Detection and Messages Scanning

Monday August 9, 2021 1:50 am PDT by
Apple has published a FAQ titled "Expanded Protections for Children" which aims to allay users' privacy concerns about the new CSAM detection in iCloud Photos and communication safety for Messages features that the company announced last week. "Since we announced these features, many stakeholders including privacy organizations and child safety organizations have expressed their support of...
Child Safety Feature

Facebook's Former Security Chief Discusses Controversy Around Apple's Planned Child Safety Features

Tuesday August 10, 2021 5:50 am PDT by
Amid the ongoing controversy around Apple's plans to implement new child safety features that would involve scanning messages and users' photos libraries, Facebook's former security chief, Alex Stamos, has weighed into the debate with criticisms of multiple parties involved and suggestions for the future. In an extensive Twitter thread, Stamos said that there are "no easy answers" in the...
eff logo lockup cleaned

EFF Pressures Apple to Completely Abandon Controversial Child Safety Features

Monday September 6, 2021 3:18 am PDT by
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has said it is "pleased" with Apple's decision to delay the launch of of its controversial child safety features, but now it wants Apple to go further and completely abandon the rollout. Apple on Friday said it was delaying the planned features to "take additional time over the coming months to collect input and making improvements," following negative...
iphone communication safety feature

Apple Remains Committed to Launching New Child Safety Features Later This Year

Tuesday August 10, 2021 10:58 am PDT by
Last week, Apple previewed new child safety features that it said will be coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac with software updates later this year. The company said the features will be available in the U.S. only at launch. A refresher on Apple's new child safety features from our previous coverage:First, an optional Communication Safety feature in the Messages app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac...
maxresdefault

Apple Releases iOS 15.2 With App Privacy Report, Legacy Contacts, Hide My Email Improvements and More

Monday December 13, 2021 9:48 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2, the second major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS 15.2 comes more than a month after the launch of iOS 15.1. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iOS and iPadOS 15.2 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices...
craig wwdc 2021 privacy

Craig Federighi Acknowledges Confusion Around Apple Child Safety Features and Explains New Details About Safeguards

Friday August 13, 2021 6:33 am PDT by
Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, has today defended the company's controversial planned child safety features in a significant interview with The Wall Street Journal, revealing a number of new details about the safeguards built into Apple's system for scanning users' photos libraries for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). Federighi admitted that Apple...
maxresdefault

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.1 With SharePlay

Monday December 13, 2021 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.1, the first major update to the macOS Monterey update that initially launched in October. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The ‌‌macOS Monterey‌ update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. Apple has also released a macOS Big Sur 11.6.2 update for those still...

Popular Stories

RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
14 16 inch 2021 mbps back to back feature orange

Five Things You Still Can't Do With a MacBook Pro

Wednesday May 11, 2022 11:16 am PDT by
It's been over 200 days since Apple debuted its redesigned MacBook Pro lineup. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch display sizes, the new-look MacBooks wowed Apple fans and creative pros alike with their powerful custom Apple silicon, mini-LED screen, and multiple connectivity options. But there are still some things you can't do with a MacBook Pro. Here are five features some Mac users are still...
apple mac ipad watch trade in

Apple Launches Limited-Time Bonus Trade-In Credit for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch in Many Countries

Wednesday May 11, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple has launched a special limited-time offer for iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad trade-in that offers customers additional credit when trading in their only device for a new one. The offer is being run in several countries including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, and France. In the UK, Apple is offering up to £50 of extra trade-in credit...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...