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Vine Bans Porn (but Not Nudity)

Vine Bans Porn (but Not Nudity)

By Brian Feldman

In a blog post Thursday, Vine — the Twitter-owned, six-second looping video service — announced that it had updated its terms of use to prohibit sexually explicit content from appearing on the service. The outright ban is the culmination of the service’s longstanding uneasiness with porn.

As the company phrased it in its announcement post:

“For more than 99 percent of our users, this doesn’t really change anything. For the rest: we don’t have a problem with explicit sexual content on the Internet –– we just prefer not to be the source of it.”

Practically since launch, Vine has been trying to figure out how to handle adult content. Three days after it launched at the start of 2013, John Biggs of TechCrunch wrote about Vine’s “porn problem,” noting that searching for #porn delivered, well, porn, as if that’s some sort of big surprise.

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In only one instance (deemed human error) did a porn post show up as an Editor’s Pick, which appear in users’ feeds by default. Regardless, Apple forced the company to change the age limit on its iOS app to 17 or older due to the potential for sexual content. Twitter — Vine’s parent company — allows users to upload photos and has similar safeguards for explicit content in place, but it does not have an age gate on its app.

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So why institute this change now? There are a few possible answers, but most likely it’s because, last week, a kid posted a Vine of himself having sex with a Hot Pocket. @VERSACEPOPTARTS promised that if one of his tweets got 420 retweets (420 is a number commonly associated with smoking marijuana, in case you didn’t know), he would get intimate with a microwavable food pouch. The anonymous 18-year-old followed through on the promise and posted video to Vine. The post was deleted shortly thereafter, but not before it had garnered significant attention

CNN says that the timing is likely a coincidence, and it may be right. But the tale of The Teen Who Had Sex With a Hot Pocket is probably also the most viral thing to happen on Vine in the past month.

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The ban on sexually explicit content does not ban all nudity on Vine. In an explainer, Vine said that nudity in a documentary or artistic context is allowed. In addition to those already-fuzzy parameters, Vine also said nudity that is not sexually provocative is allowed. Exactly who will be the arbiter of what falls under that criterion is unclear. Who is to say that having sex with a Hot Pocket is not art?

This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/technology/2014/03/vine-banned-porn-probably-because-teenager-had-sex-hot-pocket/358920/

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