Twitter's Vine Features Porn Video as 'Editor's Pick' Thanks to 'Human Error'

Rosa Golijan
Monday, 28 Jan 2013 | 11:32 AM ET
Vincenzo Lombard | Getty Images - Twitter | Vine composite

Since Vine, Twitter's video-sharing service, launched on Thursday, it's been plagued by all sorts of woes. We noticed that it lacks privacy settings and abuse prevention measures, Facebook prevented it from finding any friends through the social network, and now ... well, now pornographic content has slipped into Vine's "Editor's Picks" section.

Vine's a rather neat service, in theory. If you've got an iOS device, you can create and share Vine videos. All you have to do is point your iPhone (or iPod Touch) at something and press your finger to the screen to record a clip up to six seconds in length (both sound and motion are captured, of course). Once done, you can share it to Vine, Twitter and Facebook. You can also use the app to browse through popular videos and those featured as "Editor's Picks."

And that's where Vine's latest troubles appear. On Monday morning, a video shared by "nsfwvine" — an account created for the sole purpose of posting pornographic videos to Vine (hence the "Not Safe For Work" part of the name) — received the service's "Editor's Pick" badge of honor.

While the video did lose the "Editor's Pick" badge later in the morning, it was not removed from the service. Instead, it now carries a warning message declaring that the video "may contain sensitive content" and requires a tap to be viewed. (From what we can tell, this warning message is automatically added to videos which are reported as inappropriate by Vine users.)

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We have reached out to Twitter for more information regarding how the video in question — which shows a young woman and a sex toy — was chosen as an "Editor's Pick." We wondered if some sort of automated process may be involved in the selection. A Twitter spokesperson explained that an actual person was actually to blame. "A human error resulted in a video with adult content becoming one of the videos in Editor's Picks," she wrote in an email to NBC News. "[U]pon realizing this mistake we removed the video immediately. We apologize to our users for the error."

We have also contacted Apple, as we suspect the Cupertino-based company is probably not all too happy about pornographic content being prominently featured in an iOS app. (It has banned apps for far less racy issues in the past.)

In the meantime, obscene material continues to flood into Vine. Several accounts — including "nsfwvine" — have been posting pornographic clips since Vine launched last week. Not all of porn clips carry the "sensitive content" warning yet and it's not clear if any have been removed so far.

"Wow. How did this happen, Vine?" a user asked on one of the videos, while another wondered "[c]an I flag this as inappropriate more than once?"

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  • Matt Hunter is the senior technology editor at CNBC.com.

  • Cadie Thompson is a tech reporter for the Enterprise Team for CNBC.com.

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.

  • Jon Fortt is an on-air editor. He covers the companies, start-ups, and trends that are driving innovation in the industry.

  • Lipton is CNBC's technology correspondent, working from CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau.

  • Mark is CNBC's Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bureau Chief covering technology and digital media.