Sorry everyone, time for another one of my rants. I use social media extensively. I use it to make contact and keep contact with friends and family. I use it to promote my blog (‘hello, my name is Daniella and I spam my friends’) and to keep abreast of news, events and developments around the world. I have both ‘mainstream’ social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc as well as more specialist transgender social media accounts such as at crossdressers.com, the Gender Society etc.
I am no prude. I have no problem with people publishing or consuming pornography, erotica etc as they see fit, provided it is legal, consensual and not abusive. I have even been known to read erotica from time to time myself (shock horror). Now of course we can get into a debate about coercion in the production of pornographic material, the gender dynamics at work and how to define legality. This is however not the purpose of this post so I would prefer to assume (for this post) that ‘acceptable’ pornography may and does in fact exist.
The problem I face is that when people on Twitter follow me I will follow them back if they seem interesting (based on their profile). I do not trawl through their timelines or posted media to get a detailed sense of their interests or the content they push out, I see what emerges as we go along and I am happy to give people the benefit of the doubt. This saves time and ensures I do not miss any ‘good’ stuff. Similarly on Facebook, if I know you in real life, if we have mutual friends etc I will friend you. I will not make a detailed audit of your account. More fool me perhaps.
This has led to me ‘friending’ and following people who I later realise post pornographic/erotic content on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Now again, I am no prude. The problem is that these platforms are not in and of themselves ‘adult’ in nature. I may therefore open them up on my phone or iPad in public places, when my (or other) children are around or at some other time and place. Ordinarily this should be fine, but when you open up your Twitter account and get confronted by a ‘shemale’ with a 10″ penis being fellated by a muscular man it can be a little disconcerting, whether you are in to that kind of thing or not. Also, obviously the child (or anyone else for that matter) who may be sitting behind you at the airport (or elsewhere) certainly does not need to see this. Additionally if someone who should not have seen the image did see it, one could get into some difficulties with parents or even the law. I would prefer to avoid such a situation.
Now I agree we all have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression and these are absolute rights, but I would prefer it if people would show some restraint with regard to exactly where they post things, especially pictures and videos.
Pornography is practically ubiquitous on the internet. If I want to see erotic pictures, read an erotic story or indeed engage in some erotic chat there are many places to do so. Such material readily and freely available. A search engine will cough up more material than you can shake a stick at in a few fractions of a second. I really do not need these images on my social media timelines. If I want to access them I can. I appreciate that someone may have really liked a particular image, but was it necessary to share it to all and sundry? I know that some people have ‘adult’ accounts that they use solely for these purposes, but not everyone works in the same way. Perhaps being a little more sensitive would be helpful?
The sad thing is that given how and why I use these platforms I have been compelled to unfollow and unfriend some people who also post some really interesting content. But the risk of exposing a child or even a non consenting adult to this kind of material is unacceptable to me. This saddens me but I would rather err on the side of caution. Obviously everyone’s limits are different. Some people find any form of nudity unacceptable, others are fine with full frontal nudity but draw the line at (for example an erect penis), whilst others may be happy with anything short of illegal sex acts. I believe that it is not for us to police our fellow citizens but I do think people can realise that there is a time and a place for everything. I do not think Twitter and Facebook are the place for the depiction of sex acts. So sorry, but I will unfollow and unfriend you. Going forward I will be far more selective of who I follow as well.
What do you think, where are the limits? How do you enforce these limits? Should people be more circumspect or do users need to be more selective of who they follow? I am interested in your thoughts.