Social Sites Take a Stand Against Pornographic Content

Snapchat is removing pornographic accounts, Reddit requires consent from the subject, and Google reversed a ban on explicit content, opting to enforce a prohibition on commercial porn instead.

When social sites grow to a certain size, they eventually have two major challenges to tackle: the influx of trolls and spammers, and adult content. In recent weeks, it seems a bunch of social sites, from Snapchat to Blogger and Reddit, decided to deal with the latter. And while Google decided to lift the Blogger ban on adult content, Reddit and Snapchat have gone the other direction, and want to eliminate it altogether.

Sex workers have recently started posting content to Snapchat, asking for Snapcash in exchange for personalized pictures or videos. According to Nick Bilton, technology columnist for the New York Times, this is a small but growing sector on Snapchat:

[I]t’s ludicrous to think that an app that allows you to send videos and photos that automatically disappear won’t be used to also transmit nude images.

Thus far, Snapchat has been proactive about removing these accounts, as Bilton found out with 30 fake accounts he created. Snapchat has also adjusted its ToS in an attempted to keep teens from sending nude pictures to each other. The guidelines advise:

Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: keep your clothes on!

Reddit, which is notoriously committed to letting users post whatever they want, has altered its terms too. Users are now prohibited from posting adult videos or images to the site without consent from the subjects to post the content.

On the other hand, Blogger has decided to partially reverse a ban on adult content posted to blogs. Blogger users that elected to mark their content ‘adult content warning’ received a message last week that read:

In the coming weeks, we’ll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video.

However, the decision was reversed because it could have punished many users unnecessarily, particularly LGBT diarists, romance novelists, and nude art photographers that use the service. Instead, Google will enforce a prohibition on “commercial porn.”

One of the driving factors behind these changes is an attempt to limit potential exposure of minors to adult content. Recently a Judge in Brazil ordered wireless carriers to suspend WhatsApp, alleging that there was child pornography circulating on the app. And there’s the ever present concern about revenge porn on social sites.

These measures are generally attempts to make a social site more legitimate, and that is certainly the case with Reddit. However, when presented with distribution tools, everyone will take advantage, from marketers to users to sex workers. It’s a problem without a simple solution.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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