Google is kicking ‘sugar dating’ apps out of the Play Store

As part of a series of policy changes for the platform, Google has announced that “sugar dating” apps will no longer be allowed on the Android Play Store as of September 1st. Android Police was the first to notice the change, which specifically restricts apps linked to “paid sexual interactions.” According to Google, other changes to the platform include a new focus on dormant developer accounts.

Sugar dating is a type of relationship in which older, wealthier people date younger people and shower them with gifts. As Android Police points out, there are a slew of apps on the Play Store aimed at establishing “sugar daddy” relationships. Although none of them specifically state that older men are supposed to compensate younger women for their adoration, several of them emphasize the men’s wealth as a factor in their services.

Apps that promote “services that may be regarded as providing sexual acts in exchange for remuneration” are already prohibited by Google’s Play Store standards. However, the new phrasing includes “compensated dating or sexual arrangements in which one party is expected or inferred to contribute money, gifts, or financial support to another participant (‘sugar dating’).”

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The notification from Google does not state why the apps are being blocked at this time. However, it comes amid a platform crackdown on online sex work in the wake of the FOSTA-SESTA legislation, which repealed Section 230 protections for content that “promotes or supports prostitution” in the United States in 2018. A Google official did not respond to a request for comment right away.

Aside from the modifications to the dating app rules, Google is also implementing a new policy that would see it deactivate developer accounts that have been inactive for a year. Google says it would make exceptions for accounts behind apps with over 1,000 installs or recent in-app sales, but if a developer hasn’t submitted an app or registered into the Google Play Console in the last 12 months, their account will be deleted. Google says it would warn developers 60, 30, and 7 days before deletion takes place in a video explaining the move.

Google’s previously announced adjustments to Play Store spam and opting out of the usage of advertising IDs are also detailed in the policy amendments. On September 29, it will revise its store listings and promotion policy to prohibit “spam language and visuals in-app titles, icons, and developer names,” and on October 4th, it will update its ads policy to reflect the advertising ID changes.

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