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X introduced porn and nudity content warnings (but it’s not really working)

The Social Media Company Formerly Known As Twitter (TSMCFKAT), also sometimes called X, has made it compulsory for users posting nude or pornographic content to hide such images and video behind an X ‘content warning’ marker – but the implementation of the new rule doesn’t appear to be particularly effective.

This month (January 2024) X, formerly known as Twitter, brought in the new content warning rule as part of an update to its Sensitive Media policies. Previously consensual porn and nudity could be posted freely on the social media platform. However, following the update, users need to tag content falling in the ‘Adult Nudity’ and ‘Sexual Behaviour’ categories, which will now come with a warning message.

The idea is that once the content is tagged with this settings adjustment, users have to click through a content warning to see it, in effect ‘opting in; to view content they might find offensive. As well as nudity and sexual content, violent and gory content has to be labeled this way too.

“We recognize that some people may not want to be exposed to sensitive content, which is why we balance allowing people to share this type of media with helping people who want to avoid it to do so,” X said when announcing the policy updates.

It added that if you don’t label your content with suitable content warnings, X may add them for you. Profiles and posts can be reported by other X users for incorrectly labelled content, but X has fallen short of saying that repeat offenders may have their accounts taken down.

X content warnings: prudishness or general nosedive?

Is this a sign of X becoming a little more prudish? The site is one of the last bastions of adult content in mainstream social media, continuing to allow porn and nudity while platforms such as Instagram and Facebook clamp down on such content harder.

X doesn’t allow the “promotion” of adult content (such as paying to have adult content posts appear more in people’s X feeds), or for sex work to be actively solicited on the site. However, X has proved a vital promotion tool for many porn creators, who use it to garner fans and push them to other platforms such as OnlyFans.

The implementation of the new content warning rule doesn’t appear to be very effective. On January 22 searching for “porn” on X showed various hardcore porn videos that had been posted on the same day, with no signs of content warnings. Meanwhile, many X users have posted about innocuous content suddenly being hidden behind content warnings added by X.

Writing in the Sensitive Media policy update announcement, X said that content warnings were set to become more specific.

It wrote: “Beginning January 2024, you may begin to see new media content warnings on posts that X has designated as Graphic (containing violent or hateful imagery) or containing Adult media (adult nudity and sexual behavior). When these new content warnings are available for you to use, please be sure to continue marking your sensitive media accordingly.”

Elon Musk has made noises about keeping X a free speech platform since he acquired it in 2022, so this move doesn’t necessarily mean the platform is edging towards elbowing porn out of the X picture for good.

The move, or rather its seemingly haphazard implementation so far, is probably more indicative of the site’s functionality generally nosediving over the past two years.

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Jamie F
Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice, among others. He is also the creative force behind the Audible podcast Beast Master.

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