How Should Apple React To Porn On Twitter’s Vine App?

Is this Vine's fault, or Apple's?

Is this Vine’s fault, or Apple’s?

You’ve probably seen quite a few headlines today about Twitter’s new Vine iPhone app displaying pornography. Vine went live in the App Store last week, and the video sharing service has garnered quite a bit of attention due to its parent company, Twitter.

Vine was made an Editors’ Choice by Apple in the App Store, but the app has been de-promoted following all the porn hubbub. Apple has yet to give an official comment on the issue or pull Vine from the App Store completely.

What does all this mean for Vine, and more importantly, the App Store’s policies on porn?

For those of you who haven’t been following Vine’s porn issue, here’s the quick version: People started noticing porn in Vine over the weekend, and it got to such a point that a pornographic clip was briefly made an editor’s pick by Twitter in the app. Twitter chalked this up to “human error” and started sticking warning messages over potentially offensive videos in Vine. Users were also asked to flag porn as inappropriate. Twitter has started more recently blocking sexual hashtags to try and keep people from finding porn, but that doesn’t mean the porn still isn’t there.

Now this is significant not because of Vine, but because of Apple’s past behavior towards porn in App Store apps.

You may recall the recent pulling of 500px’s popular iOS app due to ambiguous pornography complaints. The same thing happened to Viddy, an app that’s similar to Vine, around this time last year. Neither 500px, Viddy, or Vine encourage the sharing of pornography, but people were sharing naughty stuff regardless. The nature of 6-second videos in Vine encourages the behavior, frankly.

Apple has stepped in on multiple occasions when this porn issue has come up, but the company has yet to do anything about Vine. The app was pulled from the App Store’s Editors’ Choice category earlier today, but that’s nowhere near as harsh as pulling the app altogether. Twitter’s close relationship with Apple probably complicates things.

“Apple has a lot of App Store cleaning to do.”

If an app is capable of showing you porn, and Apple is consistent with its behavior, then apps like Flickr and Tumblr shouldn’t be allowed in the App Store right now. Heck, Instagram shouldn’t available either. But there they are, and you can get porn on them just as easy.

Certain apps, like browsers, show you a ‘this app can display mature content’ warning when you first download them. Why not do this for all social networking apps like Vine too? Otherwise, Apple has a lot of App Store cleaning to do.

  • virtua

    It should be pulled no question – along with big questions within apple as to how it got through. Steve would never have allowed it to happen – see his interview on all things d. Apple is getting sloppy here.

  • ekim1406

    It should be pulled no question – along with big questions within apple as to how it got through. Steve would never have allowed it to happen – see his interview on all things d. Apple is getting sloppy here.

    so you think apple knowingly approved the app and said, “sweet, theres some awesome porn in here.” vine was not advertising this as a porn app, so thats probably why it got through. any social network where videos and pictures are shared, people get naked; it wont end. i don’t know if this is necessarily on apple’s shoulders as each app/social network maintains their own terms of service. and stop saying things like ‘steve would never have allowed this to happen’ because that is not the case; hes wasn’t sitting there approving/disapproving apps. he had bigger shit to worry about.

  • davester13

    Simply put, Apple is being hypocritical about this.

    Big, established company puts out an app that can display user-generated “porn” -> no problem
    Small, new company puts out an app that can display user-generated “porn” -> must be removed immediately

  • Jonathan Schultz

    It won’t survive. Apps don’t survive this kind of publicity, neither do celebrities haha…it won’t be pulled but it won’t last.

  • hybnost

    porn is never a problem for a website it is a booster always

  • virtua
    It should be pulled no question – along with big questions within apple as to how it got through. Steve would never have allowed it to happen – see his interview on all things d. Apple is getting sloppy here.

    so you think apple knowingly approved the app and said, “sweet, theres some awesome porn in here.” vine was not advertising this as a porn app, so thats probably why it got through. any social network where videos and pictures are shared, people get naked; it wont end. i don’t know if this is necessarily on apple’s shoulders as each app/social network maintains their own terms of service. and stop saying things like ‘steve would never have allowed this to happen’ because that is not the case; hes wasn’t sitting there approving/disapproving apps. he had bigger shit to worry about.

    I specifically referenced steves policy on this discussed at the d conference, obviously he didn’t vet the apps. Apples approach was that they were deeply concerned about making sure that apps are properly vetted. Vine isn’t alone in being able to be exploited like this – a friend of mine showed me how to use an app to stream free movies of any movie available. i deleted it and reported it – Now if this type of thing can be so easily exploited it tells me that the vetting procedure either doesn’t live up to what it was put in place to do or standards are slipping. I accept that some may get through and that there is a learning curve, but this one seems obvious and it’s not alone.

  • Rygaard

    Apple should rate the aps and all aps, including Safari, should be rated unsafe for all, since you can find naked people (its ok that you can find a how to make a bomb manual, buy the componets, buy a gun, and all sorts of dangerus stuff.. but hell no to people beeing naked)

  • darkhuntress

    It should be pulled off!
    Kids have ipads too!!

    iPad content should never include porn! Period. End of subject.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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