Google has announced it will ban ‘sugar daddy’ apps from its Play Store following changes to developer guidelines.
On Wednesday, the company revealed updates to its Inappropriate Content policy. The changes will see new rules to prohibit apps or app content which promote sexual acts in exchange for money or gifts.
Specifically, Google is cracking down on apps providing “sex-related entertainment, escort services or other services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation”.
The new guidelines will come into effect on 1st September, the firm said in a notice to developers.
“We’re updating the inappropriate content policy to institute new restrictions on sexual content, specifically prohibiting compensated sexual relationships (i.e. sugar dating),” Google said.
What is a sugar daddy?
A sugar daddy is a rich, older man who provides gifts or money in return for the affection of a younger man or woman. The Google Play Store offers users a host of apps that aim to connect these often wealthy individuals with younger partners.
Prominent apps featured on the Play Store include SeekingArrangement, Spoil, Sugar Daddy Dating or Sugar Daddy Meet – all of which boast a sizeable user base.
Apps offering similar services have been banned from the iOS App Store for some time, with Apple’s policies prohibiting platforms that facilitate prostitution.
Google’s policy change appears to bring it closer in line to Apple’s stance on such apps.
SeekingArrangement, for example, has been banned from the Apple App Store for more than three years but has remained available to download for Android users.
In a statement to Android Police, which first reported the changes, Google clarified its position.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“This aligns our policies with other Google policies and industry norms.”
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These policy updates could also be prompted by legislative changes in the United States, according to reports from The Verge.
The introduction of the FOSTA-SESTA legislation in 2018 removed Section 230 protections for firms, which means Google could be held liable for content or services which facilitate prostitution.
Sideloading is still an option for users
While the Google Play Store ban will prevent users from accessing sugar daddy apps or similar services, it doesn’t mean they’re left completely in the dark.
Even after the September ban comes into effect, users can sideload apps onto their device.
Sideloading enables Android users to circumvent the Play Store to download and install apps onto their device. While users are often warned against doing this for security reasons, it’s still possible.
The policy change could also see sugar daddies and sugar babies gravitate toward more traditional dating apps, such as Tinder or Hinge.