Twitter, BuzzFeed, and Porn

 At approximately 5 PM last night, @BuzzFeedEspanol tweeted a link to an article that included headline photos of naked women in a variety of poses. To make matters worse, it wasn’t even “just” pictures where the most intimate areas of their bodies were covered with strategically placed items or limbs.

No, this was full blown, full frontal nudity.

It would be bad enough if this was the end of the story. Sadly it is not. @BuzzFeedEspanol only has about 4k followers, so at least the distribution was limited. Except that their big brother, @BuzzFeed, whose Twitter account boasts nearly 640k followers, went ahead and retweeted the link and the offending images to all of their followers.

That’s right. Last night over half a million Twitter users had not one, not two, but four pornographic images shared to their personal timelines.

Sure, buried in the middle of the tweet written in Spanish was the word “desnudas,” but that’s hardly enough of a warning for a casual Twitter user scrolling through their feed. Oh, and they did mention that the article is “NSFW,” but that warning is only visible once you’ve seen the images. There wasn’t even a “tweet contains sensitive media” warning in place to keep casual scrollers from being exposed. And Twitter doesn’t make an attempt to keep users of a certain age from using their site, so it is very possible and actually quite likely that a sizable number of children and teens were exposed to those pornographic images via their or their parents’ Twitter accounts last night.

Twitter’s cop out to dodge responsibility for postings of this nature states, “We do not mediate content, whether that content is an image or text…” and notes that they only disallow pornographic images if they appear in a “profile photo, header photo, or user background.” They just ask that users mark their media as sensitive if it contains images like that. Which @BuzzFeedEspanol did not do. My account is set to see those warnings and no such warning appeared.

 Worse yet, there was no uproar. No one seemed to care. Or if they did they didn’t say or do anything about it. I stumbled across the offending tweet a full three hours after it was originally posted. Maybe, just maybe, that’s because hardly anyone saw it. I sincerely hope that is the case, but with that many followers it’s unlikely.

So are Twitter users just okay with content like this being posted in public places where children and teens can easily stumble across it? People don’t follow BuzzFeed for content like this. It’s one thing if groups like Playboy or Penthouse do something like this. We don’t like it, but we can more easily avoid it because everyone knows what to expect from them. BuzzFeed trumpets itself as “the leading media company for social news and entertainment, intensely focused on delivering high-quality original reporting, insight, and viral content across a rapidly expanding array of subject areas.” Not exactly someone you would expect to be sharing and promoting pictures of naked women on a popular public information/media channel like Twitter.

Those exposed to these images could have been my children, or your children. Years ago, I was that child. Unsuspectingly exposed at nine years of age, I was devastated and that exposure had far-reaching implications in my journey. It makes me livid to think that anyone’s children may have been exposed to this kind of content, and I don’t think we ought to just be complacent about it. We need to make some noise. We need to let them know that we don’t appreciate the type of content they shared so publicly. We need to do it as respectfully as possible, but also as firmly as possible.

So let BuzzFeed hear your voice as a man, as a father. Let them know that you still care about your children and about protecting their innocence. Send a message to them and others that we as parents, as dads, won’t stand idly by and let this type of content go unchallenged. And be sure to share this so that we can get as many voices joined together as possible.

Joel Weber More than 1 year ago

--I couldn't agree more. However, Buzzfeed hosting extremely objectionable is nothing new. I think the vast majority of users recognize this. I have probably visited the BF site 4 or 5 times in my entire life, yet I have an understanding of their reputation.