Google is kicking ‘sugar dating’ apps from the Play Store

‘Sugar dating’ apps will no longer be allowed on the Android Play Store from Sept. 1, Google announced as part of a series of policy changes for the stage. The change that was first reported by android police, specifically bans apps related to “compensated sexual relations.” Other changes coming to the platform include a new crackdown on inactive developer accounts, Google says.

Traditionally, sugar dating relationships have involved older, wealthier individuals dating and showering younger partners with gifts. As android police notes, there’s no shortage of apps on the Play Store designed around building “sugar daddy” relationships. None of them explicitly say that older men are expected to compensate younger women for their affection, but many emphasize the wealth of the men in their services.

Google Play Store Policy already ban apps that “promote services that could be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation.” But the updated wording extends this definition to explicitly “compensated dating or sexual arrangements where a participant is expected or implied to give money, gifts or financial support to another participant (“sugar dating”).”

Google’s announcement doesn’t explicitly say why the apps are now being banned. But it comes amid a crackdown on online sex work by platforms following the introduction of FOSTA-SESTA legislation in the US in 2018, which removes Section 230 protections for content that “promotes or facilitates prostitution.” A Google representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the dating app’s rule changes, the search giant is also introducing a new policy that will see developer accounts deleted if they’ve been inactive for a year. Google says it makes exceptions for accounts behind apps with more than 1,000 installs or with recent in-app purchases, but if a developer hasn’t uploaded an app or signed in to the Google Play Console in 12 months, their account is at risk of being deleted. In a video about the change, Google says it will notify developers of an impending takedown 60, 30 and 7 days before it takes place.

The policy updates also provide more information about Google’s previously announced changes regarding Play Store spam and opt-out of the use of advertising IDs. It will update its store listings and promotion policy on September 29 to ban “spam text and images in app titles, icons and developer names” and will update its advertising policy to reflect the changes to the advertising ID on October 4.