or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Star Power

Regarding yesterday's sneer at iTunes' sloppy filtering, reader Grant Barrett asks the following:

How do you invoke the filter? I don't get any of those results when searching in iTunes--not asterisks anywhere. I'm in New York, accessing what I presume to be the American version of iTunes Store.

Well, now we have a mystery on our hands.

The first thing I did was check my iTunes settings. No parental filtering of any sort enabled (not that there's a switch to turn on or off the sort of bowdlerization I was writing about). Nothing, in fact, that could possible account for what I was seeing.

So I went to the American store. Even though I'm in Canada, I once set up an account with the American store, too, because there are things available there that aren't in the store up here, free tracks and the like. Then I did my various searches again, and damned if those asterisks didn't appear as before.

It's not just my own personal machine; a writer for the Guardian in the UK noticed the same thing a couple of weeks ago, with the system going so far as to render "hot" as "h*t". According to him,

Apple have since announced that the sporadic nature of the censorship was down to a glitch in the new system they're using, a system used to filter out offensive words.

"Hot" shows up fine on my iTunes, so either they've fixed the glitch, or it's another, even more specific set of filters, that one for the UK but not Canada (or, I guess, the US).

Language Log also has a detailed post on the subject, and if you Google "itunes asterisk", as I did, you can read what still other people have to say.

The mystery remains, though. I have no idea why one particular user's version of iTunes is immune to the Asterisks of Niceness.


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