Vine – What It Is and What Parents Need to Know
Vine, Twitter’s micro-video app that was launched in late January 2013, let’s people record and share six-second video clips on an endless loop (example).
A quick visit to the Vine feed shows the true potential of the app, and how a six-second looping video clip can be used to create and share really, really cool videos. And I can see how it can be used for educational purposes, even in my own family. For example, my husband could use it to show my younger son how he can improve on his pitching technique. So, I think there are a lot of positive benefits of Vine’s technology, but just like with Instagram, it’s become something that I feel parents should be wary of due to the adult culture and content that children can potentially stumble upon.
Porn was a big problem for Vine shortly after they launched. Hashtags like #sex and #porn filled the app with explicit content that users were creating themselves. Porn was such a problem that an explicit clip eventually made its way to their Editor’s Picks list—which, I’m assuming, wasn’t being manually populated at the time. There was even an entire website that compiled Vine porn, which surfaced only a few days after Vine became available on iTunes.
Vine took action shortly thereafter by taking down as much porn as they could, but people were still getting around it by using less-obvious hashtags like #NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) and #pornvine, for example. Since then, Vine has made changes to their app’s interface and navigation by making it so users can only browse appropriate hashtags, Editor’s Picks and Popular Now feeds, and removing access to feeds like All Videos. They’ve also made it so, if you do search for a porn-related hashtag, chances are there won’t be any results.
With that being said, Vine hasn’t changed their Terms of Service, so, technically, nudity and sexual content are still allowed on the app. It’s also important to know that users can still share this content on Twitter, and if you search by a specific username in Vine, you can still find porn. Remember, it’s still there, and it’s still allowed, Vine just makes it hard to find.
If you use Twitter on a regular basis, you’ve probably seen a few porn-related tweets or Twitter accounts without even trying. It’s flooded with porn. The Daily Beast reported these numbers over two years ago, via Porn Star Tweet, a social media aggregator for adult entertainers:
- 990 porn stars who are followed by 9,140,066 users.
- On average, the stars tweet 6.7 times per day; seven percent of Porn Star Tweets contain a photo or video.
- In 2010, over 3 million tweets and 250,000 photos and videos.
I think it’s safe to assume that these numbers are much higher now. And this doesn’t even account for all the porn spam you see on Twitter. Vine just adds to the fact that Twitter isn’t, and never will be, intended for children—or even teens for that matter.
Apple requires that you be at least 17 years old to download Vine—in fact they even list “Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity” in the app’s description. According to Katie McDonough from Salon.com, “If Apple lets Vine’s policy toward explicit images slide and continues to carry the app, it could signal a change in its own guidelines around adult content — and mean your smartphone is about to get a whole lot racier.”
Make sure your child or teen has an age-appropriate experience by setting their iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad restrictions accordingly. You can learn how to do that here. Vine is also available in the Google Play Store for Android devices. You can learn how to set app downloading restrictions on Android, here.