Insidious porn sullies tech advancement

by Madison Hopkins

02_11_13_Opinion_iPhone_PNIt’s the golden rule of technology that when something new is created, someone will figure out how to get naked on it. Our generation is one of sexual freedom and openness, usually a commendable trait. But often times, people take it way too far. The Internet has always been ripe with porn pickings. That’s all fine. The real problem is when this kind of vulgarity pops up on mainstream sites and apps. It seems no matter how innocent the intentions of some programs, perverts of the world always manage to make their presence known. This surge of sexual explicit content is nothing new to online communities and leaves me wondering not if I will find a naked man on a new app, but when.

The iPhone app Tindr takes the game of “hot-or–not” to a whole new level. This middle-school era classic game evolved from passing notes between classes to a much more efficient medium. The app is essentially online speed dating in which users are shown pictures of members of the opposite sex in the area. Users then decide to anonymously accept or reject each person. If someone accepts a profile, and the other person accepts as well, a match is born and the availability for romantic flirtation ensues.

It all sounds innocent enough at first, but I’m not falling prey to this delusion. In this day and age, I’m forced to assume it’s only a matter of time before the word “tinder” is synonymous with chatting (and pictures) of a whole different nature.

This cynical view of technology and our generation doesn’t come without evidence. Looking back at most of the popular social apps and websites throughout the past few years, it’s difficult to find anything free from xxx influence.

Most recently, Twitter released its new video-sharing site, Vine—a site that allows users to upload 6-second video clips to run on a loop, similar to Cinemagram. True to our generation’s vulgar form, it took all of two weeks for explicit content to become such a problem that an age-restricted label was attached to the app.

Vine attempted to control the pornography epidemic by removing results from hashtags, such as “porn,” “sex” and “naked.” However, after some research for this story, I can tell you that it isn’t difficult to find when you know what you’re looking for. Vine can do all it wants to try and protect its fledgling app, but some people will not be stopped. Even with the 17-and-older warning label, there is no real way to verify a user’s ages. If anything, it only adds enticement for younger users the same way an R-rated movie is forbidden fruit for a PG-13 viewer.

The question is not how programmers can restrict explicit material, it’s why people feel the need to post it in the first place. Whatever one chooses to do online is their own business; I just ask people to keep that business to their intended outlets.

Of course, one could argue that sexual material can be easily avoided on many programs. That’s true in some cases, but it’s unavoidable in others.

Chatroulette comes to mind as a particularly fitting example.  Ideally, the website is meant to connect people around the world through video chat. In reality, it’s just a long line of penises. I don’t like surprises in general, but I especially don’t like when the surprise is a strange, naked man on my computer screen.

To give them credit, Chatroulette has done its best to eradicate the problem by implementing an offensive material filter in 2011. Prior to this, it was estimated that almost 25 percent of the site’s material was considered offensive. Even with the filter, nearly 50,000 users were banned daily for inappropriate use. That’s 50,000 people who feel the need to use the website inappropriately.

It’s a sad realization to know my favorite apps will likely be tainted by someone else’s perverted desires. I’m not sure what’s inherently wrong in so many people’s lives that makes traditional porn sites not enough. Please, just keep it to yourself.

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