Pornography in the Twitterverse

Twitter's policy on porn

by Naomi Grewan

[Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash]

Most regular Twitter users are familiar with random pornography showing up on their Twitter feeds now and again. So, it came as a surprise when rumours surfaced at the end of 2019 that in the new year Twitter would be placing a ban on all pornography.

Obviously, this didn’t happen. What did happen, however, is a tightening of the policy surrounding sexual content on twitter.

Over the past few years, social media companies have been cracking down on sex-related content on the internet. The most memorable of these was probably the Tumblr ban on all adult content.

Similarly, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are also known to not allow any sexual content, taking it as far as not allowing visible female nipples because they can be ‘construed as sexual’.

Twitter remains the social media platform most welcoming to pornography, sexual content and sex work, despite tightening their policy.

According to their statement, the tightening of the policy had more to do with the clarity of language than changing the policy itself. Twitter is trying to maintain a balance between allowing people to share what they would like to and helping others avoid seeing what they don’t want to see.

Accounts involved in sharing sensitive media have to mark their accounts as such. This will then prompt a warning message to other users who can then choose whether they want to see the content or not.

The content that has to be labelled as sensitive includes:

- Full or partial nudity (including close-ups)

- Stimulating a sexual act

- Intercourse or any sexual act (including illustrations)

Art, science, medical or health and educational content, however, do not require the ‘sensitive media’ mark.

[Screenshot from Naomi Grewan showing where one marks their tweets as sensitive]

Twitter porn also cannot be posted in a profile picture, header image or live feed anymore and accounts dedicated to only posting sensitive media may be suspended. Companies and business are also not allowed to use sexual content in any paid posts or promoted ads.

“This [ban] is to keep advertisers from serving unsuspecting users ads for dildos and such, or porn sites from advertising their new fetish categories all over your feed.” Said Dan Jackson, a spokesperson for Twitter, when speaking to Vice.

As long as what is posted can be deemed consensual then Twitter is not bothered about what individuals choose to share. Twitter is much more concerned with revenge porn than they are with consensual porn or what porn studios are releasing.

Nobody can tell if the pressure from other social media companies to ban porn will reach Twitter but for the time being it seems porn will remain a major aspect of the Twitterverse.

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