Porn ban: Twitter talks about Vine's new 'no porn' policy

Porn ban: Twitter talks about Vine's new 'no porn' policy

Summary: Twitter changed its popular six-second video sharing app Vine to a strict "no porn" policy and answered our questions about the change.

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Twitter on Thursday launched Vine's official new "no porn" policy. Vine users are no longer allowed to post sexually-explicit content on the popular six-second video sharing service.

At the same time the porn ban was announced, Vine added a data portability feature so users can now download their videos.

Vine Twitter

Twitter explained the changes, guidelines and new procedures for offending accounts to ZDNet in a phone call about Vine's velvet-glove porn crackdown.

At the same time Vine's policy-change post went live, in-app notifications were sent to Vine users who have been identified as having sexually-explicit content and instructs the users to bring their accounts into compliance — or risk suspension.

Notified users, Twitter explained to ZDNet, will have one week to make changes and avoid account suspension. Users who believe they're the victim of a mistaken content judgment are told to submit an appeal through Twitter's Vine support form.

The social media giant posted the changes to Vine's Rules and Terms of Service.

Twitter told ZDNet that prior to making Vine's rule change it gave close consideration to adult content changes at other social sites — such as Tumblr — and aims to "strive for clarity" with users.

Twitter's spokesperson explained that this consideration also meant Vine's rule change would have a clear appeals process, reported accounts would not be put through an automated process — and will instead receive human review — and that reported accounts will not be immediately suspended.

We asked about the suspension and appeals process in light of widespread abuse of the "report content" function across many internet services such as Facebook. For instance, at Yahoo's Flickr, an automated system has become a harasser's delight, and users with years of artistic content and rule-abiding behavior routinely lose accounts with no recourse.

Instead, Twitter explained that accounts on Vine that were reported for adult content violation would go under review by teams that Twitter has been training specifically for consistency.

Twitter: 'It's for the community'

Until now, Vine users have been allowed the same freedom of expression — no matter how adult in nature — as on Twitter, with content similarly marked as "sensitive" and sidelined in broad searches.

When asked whether the move was to please advertisers, Twitter told us plainly that there was no advertising on Vine and that it has no intention to introduce advertising to the service.

Twitter's blog post states that it is bringing Vine's community in line with content habits of the majority of Vine users. Twitter's spokesperson told ZDNet that one year into Vine, Twitter believes its Vine community "is different" and wants Vine's wider community "to be comfortable."

"It's not about who we want to be," Twitter's spokesperson said. "It's about who we are now."

Twitter explained how Vine will now be assessing user content in refreshingly specific terms, including a Sexually Explicit Content FAQ.

Vine describes explicit sexual content as "depictions of sex acts, nudity that is sexually provocative or in a sexual context, and graphic depictions of sexual arousal."

Vine users are no longer allowed to post "Sex acts, whether alone or with another person; Use of sex toys for sex acts; Sexually provocative nudity, for example, posts that focus on exposed genitalia or depict nudity in a context or setting that is sexually provocative; Close-ups of aroused genitals underneath clothing, and; Art or animation that is sexually graphic (such as hentai)."

Vine will still allow nudity as long as the nudity is not sexually explicit.

Vine said it still allows "depictions of nudity or partial nudity that are primarily documentary, educational or artistic in nature. We also allow suggestive posts, just not sexually explicit ones."

Vine's users can post videos of "Nudity in a documentary context, e.g. videos of nude protestors; Nudity in an artistic context, e.g. nude modeling in an art class; Nudity that is not sexually provocative, e.g. a mother breastfeeding her child, and; Clothed sexually suggestive dancing."

Vine has grappled with sexually explicit content from the beginning.

Shortly after Twitter launched video-sharing iOS app Vine in January, 2013, Vine was kicked out of the iTunes store for its users' creation and sharing of explicit adult content.

Twitter acquired Vine in October 2012, when Instagram was grabbing headlines with a $1 billion Facebook buyout.

Apple banishes Vine

Vine subsequently launched as an iOS app in Apple's iTunes store January 24, 2013, instantly soaring to the top of the charts.

On January 28, Vine was yanked out of the iTunes Featured section for violating Apple's notoriously Victorian (and hypocritical) content guidelines. A clip called "Dildoplay" had accidentally ended up in the Vine Editor's Picks selection. Apple's App Store policy does not allow nudity.

Vine responded to the "Dildoplay" snafu and immediately began to hide adult content.

By the end of the day January 28, hashtag searches for terms such as #sex, #porn and #boobs no longer returned results.

Twitter pushed further explicit content changes to Vine on February 6, 2013.

An app update added functionality for reporting or blocking users, a warning about age-restricted material, and forced Vine users to confirm their age — changing the app age requirement from age 12 and up to age 17 and older.

A year later, Twitter has taken the final step to begin eliminating adult sexual expression from Vine's creative and diverse panoply. The change makes Vine into a content creation service where a whole spectrum of users now simply don't exist.

At least if Vine users can't simultaneously keep their accounts and their range of expression, users can now take their creative work with them — instead of losing it to the ether, as with nearly all other content creation and sharing services.

As socially informed by the community — or not — as this decision may be, its act is certainly a reflection of the influences and pressures of the world in which Twitter has placed itself.

So basically, there won't be another Unofficial Vine NC-17 Very Short Film Festival. Apple will be pleased.

Topics: Apps, Apple, Censorship, iOS, Privacy, Social Enterprise

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20 comments
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  • I hate fake, hypcritical "morals"

    There is nothing wrong with nudity or even with porn, which showcase only the most natural thing in the world. How twisted those "morals" are that violence is much more acceptable than things that are totally opposite of it.

    (And don't start with "What about children?" nonsense. Kid's head is not going to explode if he/she catches a glimpse of natural adult life. Your answer: "Yes, adults engage in that, it is perfectly fine and moral, there is no shame in it. Understood? Move on." Kids would not care much until they are mature enough to be really interested in it.)
    DDERSSS
    • Want to show skin? There's plenty por adult sites.

      People just want to use these services to create controversy or "their" 6 seconds of fame. There are many websites where you can upload your self-portrait smut.
      lorenzosjb
      • Reply to lorenzosjb

        LOL @ "self-portrait smut" Funny. And agree.
        Time Agora
      • Who gives a fuck - really?

        Oh no! a 6 second clip to wank over?

        Hmm set it to REPLAY....
        Jahm Mittt
  • Pornographic stuff is not obscene to me

    But I can understand why some (in my opinion more deluded) parents don't want their children watching/seeing porn.

    However, instead of a blanket ban, I would rather have put into place a "Over 18" control that has to be manually set in order to watch pornographic stuff via Vine. If someone mislabels pornographic stuff more than say.... 3 times in a week, they should then be banned from posting on Vine or Twitter period.
    Lerianis10
  • Thank you Twitter and Apple - a step in the right direction

    Thank you Twitter! There are plenty of venues for pr0n for anyone that wants it. Keeping it out of Apps that children of all ages use is critical. The Twitter App needs to be flagged as 17+ in IOS and other platforms. When parental controls are set to 12+ in Apple the Twitter App remains on the device. This is NOT good for those who want to protect children and/or filter offensive material. If we can only get thet message out to parents that they need to be wiser and more proactive with social media and the settings on the devices they give their children we may just have some hope for a healthy next generation. All social media apps except maybe FaceBook should be banned from anyone 12 and younger (it's in the EULA anyway). So 9 year old kids on Instagram and Twitter have already lied (or their parents have lied for them) by providing a false age at account setup. I am surprised the Feds have not busted Twitter, Vine, Kik and other company corporate employees for enabling, storing and transmitting objectionable content including child pr0n. Where is the protection for our children?
    Thank you again Twitter!
    TechParent
    • Or maybe you can be more active as a parent.

      Just my two red pennies.

      After all, there was once a time when it was AOL and Yahoo Messenger, with chatrooms and email and webcams. (Oh my!) In school, in 1994, while wasting time at the end of the year, I saw so many boobs thanks to the internet (hurray for early webcams and the ladies that invested in them).

      Kids are always going to find ways to find content we parents find objectionable. Want to stop it before it happens? Be proactive and talk to your child about what he or she is viewing and doing on the internet.
      Champ_Kind
    • Say the fucking word

      Your inability to type out PORN is abusive, offensive, and quite frankly makes you look like a coward.
      pr0n was acceptable to use 1-2 years in the online gaming industry by 14-25 year olds. Hardly acceptable for "TechParent."

      Your attitudes are exactly the type of repression induced on kids that lead them to over-sexual lifestyles later since you were too cowardly to face them as human beings with sexual components.
      Kognix
  • Isn't it enough already?

    Sexually explicit material is available just about everywhere. It's all over the web, varying from good old fashioned sex between consenting adults to the absolute worst exploitations of children, extreme sadism up to and including death. There are books, films, videos, photos, you name it, all of them marching along under the banner of freedom of speech--which sometimes is a real stretch. It's really quite sad enough that our civilization has not matured sufficiently to get over this juvenile addiction to 'dirty' pictures instead of regarding sex as simply an expression of affection and passion between consenting adults (of whatever gender) that doesn't need to be filmed, photographed, or commercialized.

    Twitter/Vine is facing the same challenges as any entity built on user content. Most will use it in creative and relatively benign ways. Those without emotional/intellectual/spiritual maturity will use it to take pictures of their junk, or their junk doing something. (And yes, some women will film the female equivalent.) But Twitter is perfectly within its rights to say, 'not here!' They've picked the only place to draw the line. Otherwise who's to say where the line could end up?

    For those who seem to think it's no big deal for children to run across this stuff...it is a big deal, NOT because there is anything wrong or immoral about sex, but because this kind of puerile behavior makes a dirty joke out of something that is, at its best, very meaningful and pleasurable at the same time. How will those broad-minded parents feel when their adolescent daughters and sons decide to make their own 6-second videos?

    So, those who really have nothing more useful, charitable, kind, compassionate, or self-improving to do than post 6 seconds of gentialia, and/or the use thereof on a public forum, can find another outlet for their 'works of art.' Set up a website, Skype, send an email with an attachment, have phone sex. Better yet, give some thought to growing up and perhaps using your intelligence and imagination to help create a kinder, gentler world.
    revlauren
  • Nudity and porn

    Nudity is not always porn, and porn isn't always nude. Making this distinction should be up to the viewer.
    rphunter42
  • DDERSSS - I Agree With You

    Porn is healthy / violence is not healthy. Kids can watch violence anytime on the news. No issues there. Catch them watching two people making love, and those kids did something evil.

    Conclusion - Killing = ok / Porn = NFG
    lloydkuhnle@...
    • a product of your generation

      Just because porn is being "normalised" doesn't make it normal. There is a reason it was kept as private for all of human history before this. Sex is adult business, not kids. "Making love"? That term is half the problem, you can't "make" love and porn is about lust not love anyway. I don't let my kids watch the news, yet, FYI. As a loving parent I determine what they are able to cope with and when.
      chrisozman
      • No....

        Sex became prude in the dark ages of Europe. Before that eg Greeks, or Romans sex was fine and open. And what is an adult? I am not saying let's have sex with children. What I am saying is that our definition is left open to interpretation and thus saying it is adult business is technically not correct.

        I just find the North American hypocrisy towards sex and nudity interesting. For example I don't see Vine banning gun and violence videos. I find those completely offensive. But hey that is me.
        serpentmage
        • @serpentmage

          Sex "became prude" from the beginning.
          Actually, it all started with a male & female in the Garden Of Eden.
          Then, a _serpent_ (how ironic), came and DECEIVED them. The serpent said that God was wrong and it was ok to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Here's the good part... after they ate it they became aware of their nakedness and covered themselves with fig leaves. If nudity is ok, why would one of their first actions be to cover themselves up? North American has nothing to do with it other than it was founded on some Christian principles. This is all in Genesis, so perhaps you should hate on the God of the Jews & Christians, after all, He started all of this;)
          GSavage777
          • Deluded Regionut ^

            "From the beginning," also known as approximately 1700-2000 years ago?

            You are delusional.
            Kognix
  • Porn

    Porn is healthy?
    Please explain how porn is healthy?
    Give us some proof, not just your opinion.
    That's like saying the flu is healthy, just because you want it to be.
    Paul on the Mesa
    • Sexually Repressed Guy Above ^

      The problem is that you are too domestic and non-analytic in your interpretation of 'healthy'.

      Of course the flu (by definition, a virus that causes dis-ease that affects human beings) is not the same thing as pornography. You equated a disease with a genre to slyly suggest that they are one and the same, but they aren't.

      Pornography is an entire universe of content, people, and subject matter. It's like saying fire is unhealthy for you. What? Are we talking about mental health? physical health? sexual health?

      (Fun fact, all of these areas of science have shown that pornography can indeed be healthy).

      I love how idiots always ask for 'proof' online when they can't even back up their own claims without using anecdotal evidence and half-idiotic comparisons in their argumentation.
      Kognix
  • Missing the Point

    I don't think it's so much Apple and their no-porn policy as it is Twitter and their complete inability to manage published content and limit it to appropriate contexts. Tumblr - notorious for being the Internet's porn blog - has iOS apps. Granted, you have to declare that you're 17 or older to download the iOS apps, and then within them and consent to viewing adult content, but still, at least it's effective at keeping such material off of top-feature promotional slides.

    Porn is quite possibly the most powerful form of human expression that exists. Unfortunately, commercial porn distributors know this as well and will not hesitate to violate all kinds of rules for the mere chance of being able to tease someone into buying more. In fact, it's so powerful that people are turning to sexually graphic media - whether outright pornographic or just suggestive - to harvest general attention - for better or for worse.

    Hosts of amateur publishing services, like all your favorite social media sites, have to keep tabs on such abuse and do whatever they feel necessary to maintain what is often called quality of community. Reality is that the vast majority of people do not feel comfortable with porn on mobile devices, if not with porn altogether, regardless of whether its their own device or someone else's nearby. If it's left unchecked, people will leave, and the quality of the product will suffer.

    Remember that on all these free sharing sites like Twitter, Vine, Facebook, etc., we, the users, are not the customers. Rather we, or perhaps our attention, is the product being sold to their advertisers. They are the customer, and as long as the site doesn't feel like a proposed policy change will make its "product" run for the hills, these advertisers are their primary concern, not us, the users.
    phntomsoul@...
  • The mind of the beholder...

    One person's porn is another person's art, and to a sufficiently imaginative mind, ANYTHING can become porn. As noted by other commenters above, the really demented thing is that violence is permitted on TV and in movies, while sex is considered "dirty."

    OTOH, there are plenty of venues for porn all over the internet, which means that you can post anything you like somewhere, and also means that every kid with a smartphone or computer can watch all the porn they like. Does someone think that having to check a box saying "I am over 18" will stop children from watching whatever imaginative sex acts they like?

    Maybe there's a kid out there who cannot bypass "parental controls" on their phone, but 99% are more computer savvy than their folks.

    Porn is here, it's everywhere, and it's not going away, because 99% of people watch it, including the preachers who denounce it from their pulpits.
    daniel1948x
    • Well...

      Not ALL preachers. I know a blind preacher....
      GSavage777