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In iOS 17 Parents Can't Delete `#images` GIF search iMessage App

Until iOS 17, parents could remove the dangerous iMessage app called #images, but the latest release removes this control, exposing millions of kids to graphic sexual content.

Apple's texting app "Messages" comes with a feature that allows you to search for animated GIFs to insert into texts, including many images that are extremely innappropriate for children.

Apple's iMessage GIF search #images app can't be removed in iOS 17
This can no longer be removed by parents in iOS 17

If you've never tried it, this iMessage app allows searching for animated GIFs. In the image below, you can see the result of a search for goats, but a less innocent search would fill the screen with images not suitable for children.

Kids can search for sexual images in iOS 17 Messages
Imagine a search for something less innocent than goats...
How dangerous is it?

While the #images GIF search seems to block full nudity and certain explicit searches, it still grants access to thousands of sexually graphic images that most parents would never permit young children to see. Try searching for bikini or lingerie if you're skeptical, and remember that millions of children have iPhones.

iOS 17 does allow removing third party iMessage apps through a new Settings area. But the apps provided by Apple do not appear as options to disable.

Apple iMessage apps can't be removed in iOS 17
Notably absent is the ability to delete Apple's iMessage apps
What should parents do?
  1. Please take 2 minutes to file a bug report here, letting Apple know that this is a serious problem you care about. The more people who report the issue, the sooner it will get fixed.
  2. Help raise awareness and increase the pressure on Apple by sharing this article on social media.
  3. If your kids' iOS devices aren't updated to iOS 17 yet don't update, stay on iOS 16 until Apple fixes the issue. iOS 16 will work well for several years at least.
  4. If you've already updated, we recommend temporarily crippling the Messages app by setting it to be allowed only for 1 minute each day, with ScreenTime's App Limits feature.