It’s always interesting when the mainstream press has to acknowledge the existence of porn or even sex on the Internet. There have been a couple of instances this week, and you don’t need to be a deviated prevert organizing a mutiny of preverts to appreciate the stupidity of a lot of it.
Let’s start with Vine, Twitter’s new video sharing app that allows Twitterers to exchange six second videos. Shock and horror ensued when one of the top-rated homepage videos showed some kind of fucking. Vine responded by banning the account that had submitted the clip, and also banning searches for “#porn”, “#nsfw” and “#boobs”. That’ll fix it.
Either Twitter is incredibly naive or they purposely launched Vine without a few obvious safeguards to get a little free PR, because there’s no use more obvious for a site that shares video clips than “#porn” and “#boobs”. Maybe part of the problem is that Vine is an IOS (Apple) app, and Apple is pretty weird and inconsistent about applying the 21st century’s favorite weasel word, “inappropriate”.
While Vine was continuing to be distributed in the App Store, another app, 500px, which is used to access the popular photography site of the same name, was pulled for “featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines.” I’m a casual user of 500px and all I’ve ever seen on that site is topless women in artsy, high-gloss photos. Maybe I missed something, but even so, 500px is no kind of real porn site. Apple allowed 500px back into the app store after raising its rating to “17+”, while Vine retained its “12+” rating.
As Josh Topolsky points out, Twitter, another “12+” app in the App Store, has long had a ton of “#porn”, but Apple’s ignored that and continued to support more Twitter functionality in IOS.
I’m not trying to pick on Apple, though I will point out that Google allows its app store to sell porn apps, and they seem to be surviving. Apple’s just mirroring the weird US attitude towards porn and really, sexuality, in general: it’s something everyone knows exists, a lot of people use technology to consume porn and communicate sexual images, but it’s rarely mentioned and almost always tut-tutted in mainstream culture. Forget Vine and 500px, there’s an app called Snapchat that allows sending pictures and video that expire a few seconds after viewing. Just what in the hell do you think the 20 million photos shared every day on that service usually contain? I await the a breathless, scandalized expose of Snapchat sexting as soon as the MSM realizes that it exists.