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Vine Shows Porn as ‘Editor’s Pick’ in Main Feed

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There is an Internet truth that always seems to remain consistent regardless of the Web service or app used: if you give users the ability to share video, the product will inevitably be used for porn. It’s a problem that plagues some video sharing websites to this day, as well as live video chat services like ChatRoulette. And one place it’s an absolute no-no is on iOS, where late CEO Steve Jobs made it abundantly clear that pornography had no place on his devices.

Of course, the iOS-only Vine service from Twitter is now suffering from the porn problem. Vine, a service launched by Twitter, gives users six seconds to put together a video that can be shared on both Twitter and Facebook, as well as in the main Vine feed. “Editors Picks” also show up in the main Vine feed — curated videos that are supposed to be the best of the best, highlighted by Vine editors so that they’re displayed regardless of whether or not you subscribe to the user who posted the video. Typically, Vine shows porn if you’re following a user who shares it. This morning, however, a pornographic clip made its way into everyone’s main feed, tagged with the “Editor’s Pick” label but hidden behind a “NSFW” designation — now we have a full-blown scandal on our hands.

Twitter quickly responded to the issue, pulling the video down from Vine and offering this explanation:

“A human error resulted in a video with adult content becoming one of the videos in Editor’s Picks, and upon realizing this mistake we removed the video immediately. We apologize to our users for the error.”

It’s easy to place the blame on “human error,” but is a human really responsible? Until Twitter offered its explanation, it appeared that Vine was using algorithms to select its Editor’s Picks. Twitter’s statement seems to indicate that there were no algorithms at work, but it’s difficult to understand how a Vine editor might have accidentally chosen a NSFW video to share with Vine’s entire user base. Whatever the case may be, it’s a safe bet that Vine editors will be looking carefully at every video tagged with the “Editor’s Pick” label from now on.

And there’s still the lingering issue that Vine may have with Apple, the company that does its darndest to keep porn off of iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. Apple removed an app called 500px earlier this month due to the fact that pornographic images were visible in the app. Vine may be getting a little bit of leeway due to its affiliation with Twitter (Twitter is built into iOS), but it’s hard to imagine that Apple will continue to put up with unfiltered Vine porn if nothing is done to curb the issue.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but one thing is for certain — Vine can’t make the same mistake again. Its spot in the App Store likely depends on it.

— Shawn Farner

Shawn Farner is a Harrisburg-based tech blogger who has been involved in online media for over seven years. He covers consumer electronics, Web-based services, and tech startups. Read disclosures here.