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Twitter's BBC hashtag shows visitors hardcore porn images

Twitter

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 16 Jan 2013 at 14:25

Users searching for the BBC on Twitter are being exposed to hardcore pornographic images, PC Pro has discovered.

The problem has been caused by Twitter's recently introduced photo preview feature, which automatically displays images linked to within tweets, including searches for particular hashtags. If images haven't been marked as explicit they can appear in any user's search results.

Following a tip-off from a reader who was shocked to find adult material in his timeline, PC Pro investigated and discovered that seemingly innocent search terms can deliver hardcore pornography. For example, #bbc refers to both the British Broadcasting Corporation and an abbreviation commonly used by pornography sites.

Such a search throws up graphic images with no warning of adult content, alongside trailers for Radio 1 shows and BBC nature programmes.

We contacted Twitter to ask if preview images were vetted, but the company referred us to its terms and conditions instead of responding to specific questions.

Those guidelines state merely that users are forbidden from using nude or pornographic images for profile pictures and backgrounds. Other content is "not mediated": Twitter advises users that they should flag sensitive content, but the process is voluntary, so many images arrive on the site without proper warning.

"If you upload media that might be considered sensitive content such as nudity, violence, or medical procedures, you should consider applying the account setting 'Mark my media as containing sensitive content' by following the instructions," Twitter says.

If images are not marked by the poster, they can be flagged as inappropriate by other users, but they are not immediately removed from the site.

As a test, we flagged two explicit images tagged with the #bbc hashtag yesterday evening. This morning they were gone from the search results - but had been replaced in those "top tweets" by an equally explicit image dating back to 9 January.

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User comments

This reminds me of possibly unintentional (but I'm not convinced it wasn't deliberate) fun caused by Susan Boyle's recent hash tag for her album promo party.

#susanalbumparty

By mr_chips on 16 Jan 2013

I'm unsure of the story. The fact that people are free to use whatever hashtags they want or the fact that Twitter will remove images when asked?

David.

By artiss on 16 Jan 2013

There is a vast amount of Porn available via any hashtag you care to mention. Twitter needs to do something about it as it is not blocked by any porn filer.

By llcoolj40 on 16 Jan 2013

My friend is always saying that his wife can't find enough BBC material on the internet. Surely this will help her keep up to date with current events?

By thedrumdoctor on 17 Jan 2013

Miriam O'Reilly screwed by #bbc?

By Phoomeister on 18 Jan 2013

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