Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

Twitter’s Mobile Update Can Keep Your Sensitive Eyes Safe From Sexy Tweets

sensitiveTweetNo one wants to look at porn in a tweet. (At least, not without expecting it first.)

That’s likely part of why Twitter introduced its latest little safety tweak in the last mobile update for iOS and Android, a method of censoring questionable content that appears inside of tweets. (A Twitter spokeswoman confirmed this came in the early July mobile update.)

Ostensibly, that means snipping out weird porno before you get a chance to see it.

Look at the screen-capped tweet to the right, for example. If Twitter deems the photo potentially risque, you’ll note you aren’t seeing a photo, but a stopgap. You’ll have to click through the warning to see the actual pic.

Twitter says it’s a way to keep stuff like “nudity, violence, or medical procedures” from popping up in your stream unannounced — surprises that, again, you probably don’t want to see unless you’re out-and-out searching for that stuff. (Though I’d imagine a quick Google search is far more effective than scanning Twitter for porn.)

Start getting used to it. It’s on by default, which means Twitter will try to warn you and hide all potentially porny tweets if you’ve never tweaked your settings.

And if you’re a regular, non-techie normal person — like the vast majority of the 200-million-plus people who use the service — you’re probably never even going to look inside that buried settings menu in the first place.

alsharptonPretty obvious move, this: It’s a simple way to keep the service clean for all age groups — including kids and teens, one of Twitter’s fast-growing demographics — and improve user experience. (In theory, at least.)

I figure Twitter is still fine-tuning the system. My colleague Peter Kafka saw the censorship screen from a tweet in his stream, but after clicking through, it was pretty tame — the Reverend Al Sharpton sitting with his new girlfriend (both fully clothed, mind you).

I’ll point out that I have no clue if Twitter scans the image metadata or words inside the tweets for keywords that would suggest a porny tweet, or if all media will display that censorship stopgap if the little box is checked in your settings menu.

My guess, though, is that part of Twitter’s “learning” here hinges on what sort of stuff users flag manually. Obviously that’s something that takes time and troubleshooting.

Let’s hope Twitter can work out the kinks — for Al Sharpton’s sake, at least.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald