Dear everyone reading this. Hi. Here’s what’s on my mind:
Twitter recently announced its decision to ban all “adult” content on its popular Vine app. That means thousands of accounts, including mine, are going to be suspended and/or deleted. What’s Twitter’s reasoning behind the censorship? They want users to “be comfortable.”
Call me crazy, but I’m not comfortable with censorship. So I started a petition to fight this nonsense.
Rather than regale you with all my thoughts on why porn censorship is wrong in and of itself, as why it’s related to broader internet freedoms, here’s a link to my thoughts on the subject, in an essay I wrote for Vice called “Fap for Freedom.”
The ban, and my petition, are getting lots of media attention.
First, from an interviews me, Jiz Lee, and others had with the excellent EJ Dickson on The Daily Dot. Here’s a quote from me in that article: “When you’re a porn star, Vine is a great avenue to to present a fuller picture of your personality,” says Habib “For me, that was a huge value: I can show a porn post and I can show a little video of myself doing something dumb at the grocery store. It’s the idea that sex and sexuality aren’t divorced from all the other things I do in my life… and I think that’s part of the thing that’s so frustrating about this ban, that Vine is forcing those two things apart. And that’s essentially an ideological stance. It’s not about making users comfortable.”
Then on Nerve.com, which reminds us that: “Vine became just one of the many outlets that have taken an actively anti-porn stance in the last year.Tumblr’s crackdown on NSFW-friendly tags, Facebook’s arbitrary censorship of nudes, and the UK’s opt-in porn legislation all point to a larger trend of social venues being uncomfortable with acting as the gatekeepers of explicit content.”
Finally on (NSFW) Sex.com: “I understand that six seconds clips of boobs wasn’t what Twitter had in mind for Vine, but that doesn’t give them the right to restrict users. If you’re over 18, why shouldn’t you be able to see looping clips of your favorite porn stars or hot amateurs?”
Petitions can be a bit vexing for activists of all stripes – Why, when so many you know share your beliefs, is it so hard to gather signatures?
Still, the petition has picked up steam, and has almost 1500 signatures! Now if only I could get each one of my 28,000 twitter followers to sign.
Anyway, it takes just a few seconds to click and sign the petition and draw a line in the sand against censorship.
And if you’re really feeling good about it, cut and paste the link and tweet/facebook/blog it out to your friends.
And if you’re a total freedom of speech saint, you can promote it by donating a few bucks via the change.com sidebar.
Whether or not the petition reverses Twitter’s decision, it will help create community awareness, send a strong message to Twitter to take more care in the future, and show anyone who is concerned with freedom of speech (and sex positivity) that he/she is not alone.
Thanks and Love,
Below is the wording of the petition. Click here to sign it.
Censorship affects all of us.
The important role of the Vine app – as a medium for users to freely express themselves – is under threat from a new policy.
As of March 6th, 2014, Vine, owned by Twitter, has decided to remove all content labeled “adult content” and to suspend or ban users creating any content labeled “adult.” Vine’s stated reason for doing this is because they want users to “be comfortable.”
Many of us – as users of vine – do not participate in viewing or creating adult content, but we all recognize Vine as a place for freedom of expression.
We are disturbed by the precedent set on Vine for other applications and websites, including Twitter. We are also disturbed that we are not allowed to choose what we view.
Vine’s perception of its users as a community that advocates censorship is wrong. There is nothing comfortable to us about the slippery slope of censorship.
For these reasons, we demand full restoration of adult content on vine and a return to the adult content warning system previously in place.
On 3/14/14, the DailyDot revealed that Twitter’s sudden decision to censor its Vine app was due to Vine’s inability to get rid of child pornography (most of which, the story implies, was made by teens themselves) on the app. The long and short of it is this – Vine’s interface for flagging objectionable content- including child pornography – was terrible. It was difficult for users to report child porn , and when the child pornography was found, Twitter panicked. We should be even more outraged at the censorship now. Not only was their stated purpose – to make users “more comfortable” – not true, they also infringed on freedom of speech to save their own skin. Instead of spending money to overhaul how users report objectionable content, they instituted a broad ban of content. This equates child pornography with consensual sex/pornography and tries to solve a wrong with a wrong. Stepping on basic freedoms because you’ve not taken care to clean up your act is not acceptable.