OOPS

What’s the point of watching porn on Twitter?

US senator Ted Cruz is attempting to clean up an embarrassing social-media mess after his Twitter account was discovered to have “liked” a troublesome tweet.

The official account of the Republican senator from Texas “liked” a tweet late yesterday (Sept. 11) that featured a two-minute pornographic clip. And because “likes” are public, it was quickly noticed and widely reported. The senator’s senior communications advisor has tweeted a statement saying the interaction has been reported to Twitter. Cruz offered more details this morning to reporters:

The embarrassment highlights just how treacherous Twitter can be. It only takes typing a few choice keywords and the flick of a button to find dozens of Twitter accounts featuring explicit pornography.

Why watch porn on Twitter? Viewers there can avoid actual pornography sites or streaming services, which, like many sites, vacuum up browsing information from users. The problem is that it takes even less effort on Twitter to accidentally and publicly “like” or “retweet” one of those explicit posts.

An inadvertent click drove former US lawmaker Anthony Weiner into political exile in 2011. In that public scandal, the New York Democrat publicly tweeted a photo of his crotch to a 21-year-old college student. The congressman had meant to send it in a private direct message. The tweet was hastily deleted, but not before it was seen by thousands of his followers, including reporters. After several days of media scrutiny, Weiner made a tearful apology and admitted to flirting with several women using social-networking sites. He would go on to resign his seat over the scandal. His online flirting would come back to bite him again two years later, sinking what had been a promising bid to become the New York City mayor.

Now it’s an embarrassment for Cruz, who grew up an evangelical Christian and has touted those values throughout his political career (he once defended a ban on sex toys). It’s also not his first run-in with a minor pornography scandal. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Cruz retracted a 30-second political ad when it was discovered one of the actresses, Amy Lindsay, had previously starred in a soft-core porn film.

Twitter policy does not outright ban pornographic content, though it does prohibit the promotion of adult or sexual products and businesses. Further, the site does not allow users to feature pornography in live videos, profile images, or header images.

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