Remember the Monkey app? Monkey first came out in 2016 as way for people (mainly teens) to easily make new friends online. It’s similar to Chatroulette, only that Monkey is mobile-first and conversations are timed for 15 seconds. If you and your Monkey pal both consent to more time with each other, you have option to keep chatting.
Well, Monkey (unsurprisingly) quickly became compromised with sexually explicit content, even though the app creator, Isaiah Turner, had reportedly coded the app to detect inappropriate behavior and flag it immediately. When CNBC reporters tried the app for themselves, they were paired with users who were “engaging in a sexually explicit act” while another user was “showing off his genitals.” Yikes.
The founder responded to this test, saying, “I’m sorry that you experienced explicit content. To clarify, however, the machine learning and human monitoring kicks in when a user is reported. The activity is monitored and then if the inappropriate content is confirmed, the user is banned. In the version of Monkey that will launch with iOS11, the machine learning will kick in before the user is even reported. Monkey is taking this seriously and being proactive to solve it.” But the damage had already been done.
What exactly happened to the Monkey app?
Monkey is still around and you can download it on Google Play. However, it seems like the Apple store has taken it down (unless you downloaded it before — there’s a way you can still access it). Although Apple didn’t release a statement about their specific reasoning, they most likely banned Monkey due to the 1,500 reviews in the App Store that mentioned inappropriate behavior minors were exposed to, per the Washington Post.
Although Apple had initially changed the settings so that you had to be 17 years or older to download the app (Monkey was able to be downloaded with no age restrictions when it first came out), it seems like they took measures even further. Reddit users have recently brought up the issue, wondering where the app went, and concluding that Apple, which has one of the strictest policies for their apps, must have taken it down because of predatory behavior.
It seems like it’s for the best that Monkey isn’t as easily accessible. The Washington Post went through all 130,000 reviews at the time and found more than 1,500 reviews “that made mention of uncomfortable sexual situations.” One reviewer wrote, “A man who is sick in the head and disgusting decided to show some things that shouldn’t have been shown.” Another one wrote, “They’d still push for sexual things. Even if I said my real age, like 12 or 13, they’d say that’s okay. It made me feel uncomfortable.”
Something as horrifying as both reviews would be considered a no-go for the App Store. One of their policies state that “Overtly sexual or pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as ‘explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings'” is classified as Objectionable Content and has grounds for banning.