Thursday, July 25, 2024

Developers at Elon Musk’s X test NSFW content and communities features

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X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, is testing a feature that lets users create or join communities focused on “adult content” or other “not safe for work” material. 

Users who create a community within the app can specify in the settings that their group “contains adult-sensitive content,” according to screenshots uncovered by Daniel Buchuk, an analyst at Watchful, which tracks apps’ development testing. The X groups will then feature an “adult content” label. Users who fail to label their community could see some of the content being filtered out or removed, according to the screenshots of the rules. 

Communities on X can be private, and it appears that the social media network will ultimately require age verification for groups that feature adult content. X’s policies currently restrict “graphic media, adult nudity, and sexual behavior for viewers who are under 18 or viewers who do not include a birth date on their profile.” A senior software engineer at X, Dong Wook Chung, posted Thursday that the purpose of the new label is “about making communities safer for everyone” and that “only users who have specified their age will be able to search communities with NSFW content.”

A spokesperson for X confirmed that Chung is an employee, but declined to comment further. 

U.S. lawmakers have made protecting teens and other young people online a key focus in recent months, including at a contentious Senate hearing in January that featured the chief executive officers of several social networks, including X’s Linda Yaccarino. 

Openly offering “NSFW” groups may be another way for X to try to differentiate itself from other mainstream social networking services. Adult material lived on Twitter long before owner Elon Musk took over and changed the company name, and Twitter’s former executives even considered building an OnlyFans-style subscription offering for adult content creators. Twitter scrapped the project after deciding the company wasn’t prepared to police “harmful sexual content,” including child porn, according to The Verge

Musk has been open about his belief that X should carry almost all content that isn’t illegal. X allows posts about topics such as sexual behavior if users label it as sensitive, but its policies forbid adult content in live videos and profile images. It’s also against the rules to promote those subjects as part of an advertisement. 

It’s not clear when the test will go live to a broader audience, and it’s possible the feature could still be scrapped. 

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