Play Store adds new rules for sexual content, hate speech, and marijuana

Google Play Store
Google Play Store (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has expanded what is prohibited in apps regarding sexual content, hate speech, and tobacco products.
  • Apps are banned from selling marijuana, e-cigs, and counterfeit goods.
  • Loot boxes must provide you with the odds of receiving the items before purchasing.

Google has been hard at work making new policies for the Play Store. It began with changes in policies to specifically protect your children, but Google is also expanding policies on sexual content, hate speech, and adding new restrictions on marijuana, e-cigarettes, and counterfeit goods.

While there were already policies in place against sexual content, it mostly covered depictions of sexual acts or escort services. The changes to the sexual content policy now go a step further, including depictions of nudity or content that is lewd or profane.

It does go on to say that, "nudity may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific or artistic, and is not gratuitous."

Similarly, the section on hate speech has also been expanded with more specific information including examples of violations.

  • Compilations of assertions intended to prove that a protected group is inhuman, inferior or worthy of being hated.
  • Apps that contain theories about a protected group possessing negative characteristics (e.g. malicious, corrupt, evil, etc.), or explicitly or implicitly claims the group is a threat.
  • Content or speech trying to encourage others to believe that people should be hated or discriminated against because they are a member of a protected group.

There have also been some minor tweaks when it comes to gambling and loot boxes. Previously, gambling apps had a restriction on rewarding players with "prizes of cash or other value" which has now been changed to "prizes of cash or other real-world value." It's a small change, but it opens up gambling apps to provide different rewards, as long as it doesn't have a real-world value.

Google is now addressing loot boxes the same way it does other gambling.

The new loot boxes policy requires the odds of receiving items to be clearly disclosed before purchasing. Loot boxes were not previously mentioned as part of the Play Store policies, but due to the growing popularity, it is nice to see Google addressing it.

Google also has some new policies regarding the sale of marijuana. Regardless of the legality of it where you live, apps will not be allowed for the use of ordering marijuana, assisting in delivery or pick up marijuana, or facilitating in the sale of products containing THC.

Tobacco products are also in Google's crosshairs, as Google's new policy prohibits "apps that facilitate the sale of tobacco (including e-cigarettes) or encourage the irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco."

Google is even going after real-world intellectual property thieves, with a new section that bans the sale of counterfeit goods in apps. If you come across this happening you can fill out this form to report it.

With Family Link, Google is finally giving parents some much-needed help

Jason England