Vine Prohibits Pornographic Content

In a recent blog post by Twitter, the owner of the photo and video service Vine, the company announced that it would prohibit the introduction and distribution of explicit sexual content on Vine. Twitter stated that it respects the free exchange of imagery on Vine, but that a small percentage of its users were not using the service as it was intended.

As the blog post went live, notifications were sent to Vine users who could be potentially suspended under the new policy. These users were ordered to alter or remove their posts within a week, or face disciplinary action. Those who wished to argue that their content did not violate the pornography policy, could utilize the Vine Support Form to plead their case.

This is quite a turnaround since last year when the editors of the new photo sharing service endorsed a hardcore sexual image under its category of Editor’s Picks.  This image only retained this distinction for a less than a single day, when Twitter apologized and immediately removed the photo.  Twitter explained that the image had not been actually chosen by the editors, but had been inadvertently placed in the Editor’s Picks tab because of human error.

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In the blog post, Twitter distinguished between pornographic content and what is acceptable artistic imagery.  Under its prohibited imagery category were:

  • Sexual acts employing sexual aids including toys and machines
  • Any sexual acts either alone or in the company of others
  • Nudity expressly for the purpose of inflaming sexual desire, e.g. pictures focusing on genitalia or in sexually provocative settings
  • Any imagery of aroused genitalia (even those obscured by clothing)
  • Animation which involves graphic sexual acts

However, Twitter did detail some types of nudity that were permitted:

  • Nudity that was part of a documentary
  • Artistic nudity
  • Nudity that is not intended to sexually arouse viewers, for example, breastfeeding
  • Sexually suggesting dancing, e.g. twerking

The post went on to describe the consequences for posting indecent content.  Anyone who posted images that violated the new policy would be suspended at least until they removed any offensive posts.  Additional violations could result in a permanent suspension. Viewers who come across this type of material could use the Report This Post function found at the bottom of all posts.

Twitter originally purchased Vine in late 2012, although the term purchase may not be precisely accurate.  At the time, Vine was just a startup company composed of three founding members and had yet to go public. The service specialized in short video clips, usually merely a few seconds, and was primarily for iPhone users.

This latest policy regarding sexual content does not appear to be related to ad sales, as Twitter explained that it had no desire to introduce ads to Vine. There is some question whether this is the case; in early 2013, Vine was banned from the iTunes store for allowing sexual content. Instead, Twitter based its policy on what it believed the majority of the Vine community desired.

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