Twitter Reportedly Clamping Down on Porn Search Results
LOS ANGELES — Twitter’s latest tweaks are causing concern among adult marketers, as the social media giant appears to be restricting porn- and sex-related search results from its “Top Tweets” listings.
A mainstay of adult social media marketing, Twitter is home to many performers, companies and service providers working in the adult entertainment industry, who find it to be a favorite venue for maintaining contact with fans, while building bigger, connected audiences.
This sexy status may be in jeopardy, however, with reports emerging of changes in the way that Twitter lists adult fare in its search results.
“Twitter has been ‘the only major adult-friendly social media’ for quite some time now, and thus I’ve been saying for awhile that it was about due for some hot #Pornocalypse action,” Bacchus wrote for ErosBlog.com. “And now it’s here, in the form of some porn killwords silently added to the default ‘Top Tweets’ presentation of Twitter search results.”
Bacchus did a little exploring, searching for hashtags such as #Spanking and #enemas (which still return Top Tweets), but notes that #Fisting “gets the double death kiss: Twitter first offers you #fishing results, then says it has no top fisting results if you demand to ‘Search instead for fisting.’”
Sex journalist Violet Blue, following up on a tweet from Crash Pad Series, notes that a number of porn hashtag keywords are now blocked from Twitter’s Top listing — including #porn, #bondage, #femdom, #phonesex and #revengeporn.
“One of the things I hate about sex censorship is that it renders previously useful tools into unreliable and inaccurate tools,” Blue writes. “Twitter now returns no ‘Top’ results for all searches [containing] the word porn: No news tweets, no health, academic, literary or legal tweets.”
Searching for “#porn,” XBIZ discovered a prominent link to Brazzers Porn Nudes (@NudesNetwork), along with links to “Food Porn,” “Jeep Porn,” and other innocuous, non-adult oriented listings, while a search for “porn” without the hashtag yielded identical results.
It seems that whatever is happening at Twitter, it is in a state of flux.
Pete Housley of PornStarTweet.com notes that he also gets different results when searching with the hashtag than he does without. For example, a search for “#pussy” returns no results, while “pussy” returns tweets and profiles.
“This is likely a result as Twitter prepares to more closely integrate with Google again,” Housley told XBIZ. “[This] has implications reaching as far as Google Plus, which specifically bans posting sexually explicit material or driving traffic to commercial pornography sites.”
Housley cites XBIZ’s recent report on Twitter loosening its advertising policy to allow for sexual health and wellness products, and says that “#Pornocalypse” is an overly strong “hash-adjective” to describe the changes to the Top Tweets listings.
“Twitter is still the most censorship free social media platform by far,” Housley says. “It’s to be expected that as it integrates and expands into working with other similar platforms, it’s going to have to adapt to the rules and regulations there.”
“Whether that means a long term change to the core functionality of Twitter Search remains to be seen,” Housley tells XBIZ, noting that “Twitter has a long track record of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ in their implementation of code changes. [The fact that] there is a different result set for ‘#bondage’ versus ‘bondage’ indicates that at least at some level they’ve got some functionality issues.”
Adult social media strategist and owner of 7Veils.com, Lauren MacEwen, told XBIZ that this is an issue that she is investigating.
“The search censorship is inconsistent and not necessarily 100 percent adult related,” MacEwen says. “For example, #porn is not coming up in top search, but #nsfw is. #Fetish no but #BDSM yes. #FoodPorn and #shoe is blocked and so is #vagina and #penis. It does seem to be predominantly adult oriented, though #shoeporn and #foodporn are not adult hashtags.”
MacEwen asked about Twitter’s search inconsistencies in its developers forum, and notes that someone from Twitter is “looking into it.”
“I don’t believe that Twitter is planning to censor tweets,” MacEwen explains. “Searches are still coming up for these seemingly blocked hashtags, just not under ‘Top Tweets.’ What this does indicate is that there is an update to the network potentially coming. Either way, I will be watching closely.”
As for what characterizes a Top Tweet, the company explains that when a user searches on Twitter.com, they can toggle between results for “Top,” “All,” and “People you follow.” The default view is “Top,” and “shows popular Tweets that many other Twitter users have engaged with and thought were useful.”
Twitter claims not to hand-select its Top Tweets, which brings into question whether or not some uses of adult terms will get special consideration — such as @porn_harms and other anti-porn propaganda points that are used by groups that have been vocally opposed to Twitter’s allowance of adult fare and its popularity amongst performers and fans.
“We’ve built an algorithm that finds the Tweets that have caught the attention of other users,” explains a Twitter spokesperson. “Top Tweets refresh automatically and are surfaced for popularly-retweeted subjects based on this algorithm.”
Commenting on why users may not see the specific tweets that interest them in the Top Tweets section, Twitter advises that what the user may be looking for is only a click away.
“Top Tweets are tweets that lots of people are interacting with and sharing via retweets, replies, and more,” says the Twitter spokesperson. “If tweets you love aren’t showing up as Top Tweets, it means those tweets may not be part of the widespread conversation. Toggle to ‘All’ results to see more tweets matching your query.”
At least for now, it seems that Twitter hasn’t dropped porn results from its search listings, it has only made those results one-click harder to find. Making content easier to find, however, is the job of adult friendly search engine Boodigo.com.
“This is another example of one of the primary reasons that we developed Boodigo.com,” explains founder Colin Rowntree. “The world really is in need of a search engine for adults — not just porn, but everything from legal marijuana stores to legal online gambling info.”
“I totally ‘get it’ why Tumbler, Facebook, Google and now Twitter are sanitizing their content and search results: They have huge mainstream advertisers that generally object to having their brand anywhere near ‘adult interests’ that might offend their customers,” Rowntree added. “Our goal at Boodigo.com is to provide the adult industry with a friendly ally that will never pull the rug out from under them.”
While it is doubtful that Twitter wants to be officially known as “a friendly ally” to porn, its long history of supporting free expression by taking a “hands off” approach to legally posted material combined with its appeal to the performer demographic — young, chained to a mobile device and willing to share every detail of their life — makes it an ideal platform for the industry. A platform that while changing, may still provide a bright future for adult entertainment — and adult entertainers.