What happened to the ArtStation Android App?

We have been getting many questions from users asking what happened to the ArtStation Android App, as it seems to have disappeared from the Google Play Store. In the interest of transparency and keeping our users informed, we wanted to let you know what is happening.

On December 10, 2018, unfortunately Google suspended the ArtStation App from the Google Play store for the issue of Violation of Sexually Explicit Content policy. Google provided us with the following image as evidence of our violation.

Google’s policy is here.

Discussion points

ArtStation has an abuse reporting feature and we filter mature content from the App. Artworks with mature content do not show in the App.  ArtStation is moderated by our support staff and members of the community. When artwork is reported by the community, we quickly take action to determine if a work has mature content and actively remove really explicit content and ban users.

The first image by TB Choi would not, under normal circumstances, be regarded as explicit content by our moderators. Interestingly, the stream appears in the Twitch App, which also is available on the Google Play store.

The TB Choi drawing appears in a video/stream available on the Twitch App, also on the Google Play Store.

One of the concerns we have about the suspension is that the images Google flagged aren’t even as explicit as what is available on many other apps. For example, a few minutes of using apps such as Reddit and Instagram have proven to have far racier images.

Other apps on the Google Play store appear to have far racier content than the ArtStation App.

We have discussed internally about using Google’s Vision API to do AI image detection and assist in moderation, but Google’s Vision API doesn’t even flag one of the images as violating. i.e. we can’t even detect this without having moderators check every single piece of content being uploaded, and even if we did do that, the TB Choi image would not have been flagged as mature.

Google Vision API doesn’t mark this as adult content.

Our Appeal was Rejected

On December 15th, ArtStation submitted an appeal to Google on the grounds that the images were now marked as Mature Content and would not be accessible by browsing the App.

On December 17th, we received a response from Google that our appeal was rejected and that the app would remain suspended. We were given an additional image that violates the policy (which we have since also marked as mature content):

We have the option of submitting a new, hopefully more compliant version of the App.

What will ArtStation do?

Currently, we are discussing all the options that we have. We expect to resubmit a, hopefully more compliant version of the ArtStation app in the new year.

So, guys, this is why we’re not on the Google Play store right now. This is also to give you an idea about what we have to deal with behind the scenes at ArtStation.


Leonard Teo

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About the author

Leo is the CEO of ArtStation.