Tech

Will Twitter's New Live-Streaming App Periscope Fall To Porn?

Published On 03/30/2015 Published On 03/30/2015
Periscope Porn
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Last week Twitter released Periscope, a new video app that combines the voyeuristic spontaneity of Snapchat, the lasting replay power of Vine, and the unedited live feed of a pre-Janet Jackson Superbowl. Existing as a giant menu of user-generated live feeds, it could be the next big thing to happen to both news—see the countless feeds of the Second Avenue fire in New York City—and the cataloguing of our personal lives, since Twitter itself.

But alas, this answer to Meerkat has only a week or two before it inevitably falls into the hands of pornography.

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I’m not saying this is a bad thing—porn has influenced a wealth of different technologies throughout history, like cementing VHS tapes over Betamax and formalizing online credit card payment systems—but there’s still reason to approach with caution. Unlike the more legitimate dirty vids, live-streamed sites and app-based streams can be tricky and potentially illegal.

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According to one story from The Daily Dot, there’s a ton of porn within different streaming apps like Snapchat’s Stories. Unfiltered and live, “users could put themselves in legal risk for sharing underage content…[and] it's highly unlikely that Snapchat has legally sufficient knowledge that a particular snap is child pornography,” says Eric Goldman, law professor at Santa Clara University. Since Periscope’s live nature makes it even more immediate than Snapchat, their abilities to regulate content seem even more hopeless.

We’ve also seen this live video situation devolve before. Remember Chatroulette? Of course you do. Every third match was a big, fat, floppy male member just aching to unfurl itself to whoever was on the other end. With more than one viewer at a time, Periscope has the potential to become a platform for dudes who just want to show the world what they’ve got.

On the other hand, the fact that this app is owned by a major social media company like Twitter might reassure those who think it's going to completely devolve into one of Silvio Berlusconi's Bunga Bunga parties; most of it will hopefully still be used for its intended purpose.

We’ve also seen this live video situation devolve before. Remember Chatroulette?

However, taking one peep at the app’s Terms & Services page shows that users are responsible for their own actions: “All Content, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted, is the sole responsibility of the person who originated such Content. We may, but are not required to monitor or control the Content posted via Periscope and we cannot take responsibility for such Content.”

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So, if you are the owner of a dick who inadvertently gets in the face of an offended party, Twitter is legally out of the picture—it falls to you. Still, it’s nothing shocking until they emphasize the fact that they want absolutely nothing to do with the content you produce:

“TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, THE TWITTER ENTITIES SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES, OR ANY LOSS OF PROFITS OR REVENUES, WHETHER INCURRED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, OR ANY LOSS OF DATA, USE, GOOD-WILL, OR OTHER INTANGIBLE LOSSES, RESULTING FROM...ANY DEFAMATORY, OFFENSIVE OR ILLEGAL CONDUCT OF OTHER USERS OR THIRD PARTIES…”

This is actually presented in all caps on their page. It’s apparent that Periscope already foresees pornography becoming a problem and have made sure to cut ties with the content they’re hosting. The Guardian brings up another potential problem: “Periscoping a song or multiple songs from a gig would in theory be a ‘performance’ for which royalties are due.” This may seem silly to read now, but with smartphone audio and video quality getting exponentially better every year, it could evolve into a legitimate concern.

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Despite this dark outlook, I still have some hope that Periscope will follow in its parent company’s footsteps and be used for newsworthy videos as well as enticing snippets of life. Will stray schlongs make themselves staples in the public channels?

Probably—but the choice, as always, is ours. As Uncle Ben famously said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”


Jeremy Glass is a staff writer at Supercompressor. Follow him ONLY on Twitter @candyandpizza. If you follow him in person, Chris Hansen will find you and sit you down.

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