updated 06:31 pm EST, Mon January 28, 2013
Inability to filter out pornographic videos to blame
Twitter's new six-second video sharing app Vine is no longer an Editor's Choice nor featured on Apple's App Store following a flood of pornographic submissions that are easily searchable and shareable using the app. Twitter even briefly (and accidentally) featured an adult scene as one of its "Editor's Picks" shortly after the app's release last Thursday. The Vine app is still available through the app store, but any promotion of it has been suspended and the app itself is likely to be removed if Twitter cannot quickly fix the issue.
Twitter has begun attempting to make it more difficult to find pornographic content by disabling the #porn hashtag in the app, but as one might expect hundreds if not thousands of variations on the term have sprung up in its place. The free Vine app allows Twitter users to create and post very short looping videos, as often as they want at no cost. When a video is tagged as "not safe for work" for one reason or another, a "curtain" that warns that a video a user is trying to view may contain "sensitive" content. But if a user does a search using porn-related keywords as hashtags, they will easily find what they are looking for.
Should Apple decide that it is too easy for users to accidentally see pornographic content, it will likely pull the application from the App Store entirely. Though Twitter does not intend to censor how users employ the Vine service (with legal standards), it has attracted a lot of negative media attention for the ease with which users may inadvertently or purposefully view adult content. The company has gotten a lot of negative feedback from users who subscribed to Vine feeds but occasionally get pornographic images as part of that (to be fair, the vast majority of content posted on Vine is not pornographic).
The service has quickly picked up a reputation as this year's Snapchat, which permitted users to send images that were viewable for only a short period of time (but preservable using the "screenshot" function). Ironically, Facebook has blocked Vine from being tied into its own service over the issue, even though Facebook itself experienced similar problems with its own version of Snapchat, a Poke app that expanded on the online "Poke" function. Both apps are blamed for an explosion of "sexting" use, and the resulting unintended publication of compromising images on various websites.
Apple recently pulled apps for the photo-gallery online service 500px simply because it was possible to search for nude images (500px does not allow pornography, but does feature artistic nude images of both men and women), so it is likely that the Vine app will also be removed if Twitter cannot make changes to the app to preclude easy searches of pornographic material. Though adult content has always been available on iOS devices through various methods (including simple browser searches), the App Store forbids third-party apps that feature or can be made to feature pornographic images unless there are safeguards in place to prevent accidental discovery.