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13.09.17

Cruz Control

Posted 13th September 2017

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Have we all finished laughing yet at Ted Cruz’s Twitter account liking a porn video? I haven’t, you know. Just give me a second.

Right, I’m back. Now, I haven’t got anything useful to say on the actual incident. (Though I feel duty-bound to point out that I only find it funny because of hypocrisy, not because Sex Is Wrong. Go and check through the people I follow on Twitter and play spot-the-pornstar if you don’t believe me.) What I want to concentrate on is The Independent‘s reporting of the story.

We’ll skip past their description of “posted the pornography” – I don’t think likes count as posting, but whatever – and skip straight to the bit which is categorically wrong:

“Twitter prohibits pornography on its platform.”

Erm, no it bloody well does not. See Twitter’s media policy:

“…you may not feature graphic content (such as media containing pornography or excessive violence) in live video, or in your profile image or header image.”

So: no porn allowed in your profile image, header image, or live video streams. Fine. But there is absolutely no prohibition on posting pornographic images or normal videos.

The thing is, this isn’t some kind of obscure point. Twitter allowing porn is something which distinguishes it greatly from other services such as Instagram or Facebook. Surely a journalist tasked with writing a story about social media should know this? It’s pretty damn basic stuff.

It’s also important stuff. And it’s important because of the very next line in The Independent‘s article:

“Catherine Frazier, senior communications adviser to Mr Cruz, tweeted: ‘The offensive tweet posted on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter.'”

Again, we’re going to have to ignore the clunky wording here – I don’t think a like counts as it being “posted”, but whatever. The crucial thing here is: Frazier stating the liked tweet was “reported to Twitter”. But the tweet wasn’t forbidden by Twitter’s rules of conduct. Catherine Frazier is bullshitting us all by pointing somewhere else and hoping we’ll all look over there instead.

But The Independent doesn’t mention any of that. Because the writer of The Independent‘s piece thinks that porn isn’t allowed on Twitter. And so Catherine Frazier isn’t held culpable for her nonsense.

As someone pointed out to me: The Independent‘s story was written by someone who couldn’t even work out that if Twitter prohibited porn, this whole story wouldn’t exist. A failure of research, a failure of logic, and a failure to bring people to account who should to be brought to account.

Excellent work, The Independent, well done.

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