Was Vine designed with porn in mind?

Twitter's new video-sharing service is catching heat for hosting naughty content -- but that was clearly part of the plan all along.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or you’re just so upset with Beyonce’s inauguration lip synching you just can’t get your head around anything else -- you may have noticed that Twitter debuted a new video-sharing service last week called Vine. Since then life as we know it has not been the same.

Vine is essentially Instagram meets GIFs. Point your iPhone camera at something, tap the screen a few times, and create a six-second stop-action video clip of anything you feel like, which you can then post to Vine.co, Twitter, or Facebook. My 14-year-old daughter took to it instantly, producing brief clips of our pets, stuffed animals in blenders, and the mysteriously evaporating glass of Guinness in front of her father.

Immediately Vine became the thing to do for 15 minutes. Sites like Vinepeek and Justvined sprang up so lazy people could watch what other people were -- what is the appropriate made-up verb for this? – Vining, I guess. 

About 12 minutes after that Vine became liberally sprinkled with DIY porn.

Oh my god, porn? Really? No. You’re kidding. What a shock. Woulda thunk it?

Well, practically anyone with at least one working cranial lobe. Twitter certainly must have planned for it. Otherwise, how did they manage to come up with this splash screen equivalent of a plain brown paper wrapper:

vine porn splash larger.jpg

This isn’t something you can add yourself to your Vine posts; it has to be done by someone at Twitter. Which means that someone at Twitter is screening these videos (or enough other users have tagged them as “inappropriate”). Either way, the influx of porn can’t be any surprise to anyone at Twitter, which is kind of shocking in its own way.

Remember, this is an iPhone app we’re talking about. Yes, it may be the Age of the Celebrity Slut to you and me, but back in App Store land it’s still Leave It to Beaver time. (“Gee, Ward, isn’t it time you had the talk with Wally about girls?”) I can’t believe Apple hasn’t banned this app yet, the way it just did with photo sharing app 500px. I can only imagine there are a lot of tense phone calls transpiring between Cupertino and Twitter’s HQ as I write this.

The discovery of porn on Vine caused great gnashing of teeth and many blog posts across the InterWebs, because who can resist putting the word porn in a headline? Also, there’s the kids to think about.

Twitter’s response? It banned certain naughty words from Vine searches. On Monday, for example, you could search for Vines tagged #NSFW. Today you can’t. But the videos themselves are still there. (Also, you can still use Twitter Search to find videos Vine users have posted using these hashtags.)

Is this a good solution? Hardly. It just makes it a teensy bit harder to find the nasty stuff, just as Google’s recent tweaks to image search mean you’ll have to click your mouse a couple more times to get to the goods.

Now, I’m no prude. I think if you want your porn delivered to your smart phone in endlessly looping six second bursts, that is your right as an American citizen. The second biggest reason Al Gore invented the InterWebs was to give the people copious means of achieving self pleasure. The biggest reason? Cute cat videos. And, of course, Vine allows for both

But lumping the sex kittens in with regular kittens is stupid. If you want to enable home-made porn, create a second app devoted to it called Grind or Hind or something like that. Don’t put it right next to the adorable babies and sock monkey videos where my 14-year-old can find them.

vines abusive comment.jpg

The biggest problem with Vine isn’t porn, in my opinion. The biggest problem is that Vine has no friggin privacy or spam controls whatsoever. You can’t block someone from following you. You can’t make some Vines private or visible to only certain users. You can’t report an abusive profile or keep someone from trollling your posts with nasty comments. Everything is wide open, sort of like Twitter was when it launched in 2007.

Have we learned nothing in the nearly six years since then? Or is Twitter so focused on building up a user base for its new app that it simply doesn’t care?

I've asked the Vine folk for a response. I’ll update this post if I hear back.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld onTwitter and Facebook.

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