Gospel Library iPhone app leads to YouTube - DELETED IT

Discussions around the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch versions of the Gospel Library application.
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gregwanderson
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Postby gregwanderson » Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:16 pm

It seems to me that the ability to surf the web is a major component of the iPhone itself. If you don't want it you then don't get an iPhone. (Sorry to be so blunt. I realize you already have one but, given your aversion to the web, I wonder why you didn't get something else for a phone/PDA device.)

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Postby mkmurray » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:29 am

joej wrote:Does anyone else think it is inappropriate for a Church-issued app to have this kind of "back door?"

I've already expressed my agreement with you. Apparently we aren't getting any input from Church employees or the community volunteers working on the project; I am going to contact them about this bug and see if they have any ideas to address the problem. I think it could be tricky to fix, but I bet something can be done.
GregAnderson wrote:It seems to me that the ability to surf the web is a major component of the iPhone itself. If you don't want it you then don't get an iPhone.

There's already a web browser, we don't need every app to potentially be a web browser. Even though you could still just quit the LDS app and go to the phone's web browser to look at inappropriate things, for me there's also a second problem (beside the issue brought up by joej that the Church likely wants to distance itself from endorsing browsing anything on the web via its app). The app has a technical bug, in which the app can be used in a way that is different than the Church and the community developers intended the app to be used.
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:33 am

mkmurray wrote:I am going to contact them about this bug and see if they have any ideas to address the problem. I think it could be tricky to fix, but I bet something can be done.


It will be interesting to see what they have to say, but it may not be so easy.

I think the fix to Twitter might be to host a page that shows all the tweets. I'm not sure as there's any fix for the links YouTube passes once the video is done. Not only is this a technical issue, but a legal one as well. We have to respect the TOS of these services. The back door might just have to be the price we pay to use those services.

A question we must be ready to answer: are we better off with these apps even if we have the back door, or are we better off without the app?

Another question: Should we rely on filtering that only works at the browser level and not the network level? If we have filtering at the network level, then there is no "back door".
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Postby Kyrandita » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:56 am

I've seen a solution for the lds.org side of things before... using just css, if a custom css file is designed to be used on mobile devices (which will most likely happen anyway to make the site more mobile friendly) then you can just add a class like ".extlinks" to the area you don't want and just give it a display:none or visibility:hidden...

I haven't used the iPhone app personally so I can't be sure this would solve everything... but I think it would be easier to do it here then implement the same measure for every version of the mobile app. (Android, WM 6+, WebOS)

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Thanks for the Feedback

Postby nicjohnson » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:28 pm

This is great feedback. Of course we don't want the app to be used to surf questionable material. We'll look into implementing a solid approach.

Again, thanks for the solid feedback everyone.

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Postby jbh001 » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:31 pm

It seems to me the obvious solution is to change the function of the way the the link to lds.org is handled within the app so that it launches/switches to Safari directly/externally instead of internally. Then if Safari is "locked out" there will be a system generated pop-up to the effect that the app can't launch Safari. That way the app is going through the "front door" to display lds.org content instead of "back door" browser access to Safari.

It seems to me that the iPhone email application (and just about any other email client I can think of) already does this. If you are reading an email message that has a link in it, taping that link switches out of the email app and launches Safari (as it should) instead of displaying the results of the link without every leaving the mail app by embedding the browser functions within the app.

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Postby garysturn » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:27 am

Access to the internet is not the problem here. The problem is the action of using the internet to access something that is bad. You can not design the App to prevent someone from sinning, the sin or desire to sin is in the person not in the vehicle used to access the bad content. The internet is only a tool, just like a library is a tool, you can use it to look for good or for bad. Banning access to the internet does not solve the problem of someone seeking evil. We solve that problem by teaching correct behavior. Trying to prevent sin by banning all access to the world will never work, just like banning guns will not prevent evil people from committing violent acts. I see no problem with this App providing access to lds.org which may have a link out to the internet. It is no different than a door on the church building letting someone leave the church and go out into the world where they might encounter something bad if they go looking for it. We are to live in the world but not participate in the bad it has to offer, not remove ourselves from the world by banning all access to it. We came to this world to see how we would behave in it, not to see if we can hide from it, that would not be a test. Having access to the things of the world and not accessing them is how we prove ourselves.
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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:03 am

Here's the best analogy I can think of for why the app needs to change (which the Church has already agreed to look into):

This situation would be like the Church building a new meetinghouse where there are cable TV hookups in each room. The intent was that you could hook up a TV from the library and show content from BYUTV or something similar. However, it has been found out that you can actually just change the channel on the TV and watch inappropriate material on HBO if you want or whatever channel the cable provider offers.

Yes, we could teach people not to change channels as the right behavior. But there seems there could be something done technically to restrict what cable offerings are allowed in the meetinghouse. And yes, you can leave the meetinghouse and go to your home and watch whatever you want, but it is a matter of principle that the Church doesn't want to have the appearance of advocating watching such inappropriate content (or even just non-Church related content) within a Church meetinghouse.

The tie-in to my example is that this mobile application is like the meetinghouse, and it has a new feature like the cable hookups installed. There has now been found a way to use the new feature in a way that was not originally intended, like changing the channels on the TV and getting different content from the cable provider (which would be the internet in general I suppose). The hope is that the developers of this mobile app can code a restriction into what "cable channels" are offered to the mobile app. If you want to go look at inappropriate material on your mobile device, then that is your prerogative, but you should have to leave the "meetinghouse" and go to a different app on your device in order to do that.
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silid
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Postby silid » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:49 am

I don't really think the analogy fits. For starters the nature of the web is that sites link together like a web. It is designed that you should move from content in one place to another. It is not like a linear platform such as TV.

On the other hand though I agree that content that appears in a church application should be editorially appropriate.

Taking both of these points into account my first preference would be as in post #16 that web content is launched externally. A halfway house may be that access to sites outside of lds.org would launch in safari and any lds.org site could still be browsed inside the church app.

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Postby mkmurray » Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:18 pm

silid wrote:A halfway house may be that access to sites outside of lds.org would launch in safari and any lds.org site could still be browsed inside the church app.

I agree with this.
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