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Google responds to ‘sugar daddy’ Play Store app ban

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Today, Google published a handful of changes to its Play policies, and nestled among precise legalese refinements and some advertising ID tweaks is a bombshell for a certain type of dating crowd. Google’s updated its inappropriate content policy to ban “compensated sexual relationships” — i.e., sugar daddy or sugar dating apps.

I have to admit, I didn’t actively know that sugar daddy apps were a thing, but apparently, they absolutely are. In fact, the apps I’ve pulled up that would qualify under that category have well over a million downloads. While most have a surprisingly high rating, the quality of reviews in some cases might imply a little manipulation is occurring. Still, a lot of people are clearly using these apps.

Google’s not banning this unless you’re trading one for sex via an app. Then it’s probably banning that app. 

If somehow you aren’t familiar with the term, a “sugar daddy” is more than a caramel candy on a stick. In the more common vernacular, a sugar daddy is a person — usually an older man, but you could have a “sugar mommy” or maybe a gender-neutral “sugar parent?” — that spends or gives money in what is typically a transactional relationship, often for sexual favors.

Google responds to 'sugar daddy' Play Store app ban 2

The precise text of today’s change in policy, which kicks in September 1st. 

I don’t judge, different people enjoy different things, and if all parties are consenting with full knowledge, I don’t see how an arrangement like that really harms anyone. But, it seems Google does care, though the company is clear it’s not objecting to the nature of the relationship, merely the fact that they’re often sexual relationships with a perceived compensation basis, and the company has a blanket ban on sexual content — at least partly ignoring the primary impulse for many customers behind more generalized dating apps like Tinder and Hinge, as well as many of the messages that even mainstream dating app users swap.

When asked, Google provided us with the following statement:

“As a platform we are always excited to support our developer partners, but we also work hard to provide a safe experience for users. We have updated our inappropriate content policy to prohibit apps that facilitate sexual acts in exchange for compensation following feedback we received from NGOs, governments, and other user advocacy groups concerned with user safety. This aligns our policies with other Google policies and industry norms.”

It’s also worth pointing out that Apple has a similar policy on its App Store, and Google points out that it updated its ads policy in line with this change back in February.

Whatever the precise motivation, starting on September 1st, sugar people of all types will have to either stick to websites or sideload their sugar-dating apps — this is Android, you can still get your apps from wherever, unlike iPhones.

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