Twitter publishes hundreds of thousands of pornographic images every day, potentially allowing children open access to one of the world's largest stores of explicit photos.

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A Channel 4 News investigation into the extent of the site's porn community has revealed that as many as 500,000 sexual images are posted daily, including images of hardcore and extreme sexual practices.

The porn industry sees Twitter as one of the few remaining social media outlets for its products.

Facebook and Instagram do not allow pornography, and neither does the video service Vine, which is owned by Twitter. Twitter bans users from having pornographic profile photos, but has no restrictions on the posting of such images.

Our analysis suggests roughly one in every thousand tweets is a pornographic image. There are more pictures of porn than there are of pets.

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Jasmine Jae, a porn model with more than 60,000 Twitter followers, told Channel 4 News: "When I first came into the industry one of first pieces of advice was to get on Twitter. It's about building your profile, you can see who's shooting and it's a good way of contacting people. Ninety-seven per cent of the work I've got is me approaching people and them approaching me on Twitter."

Younger users

But Twitter is also hugely popular among children. Of the UK's 15 million Twitter users, it's estimated more than a million are under 18.

Twitter has no controls to stop children seeing porn on the site. Not only does it not ask for a user's age on sign-up, but it also allows any web user to look at content without signing in. This means that even if Twitter introduced age restrictions within the site, children would still be able to view pornography without logging in.

Twitter allows users to mark their content as "adults-only", which means viewers are given a warning message.

Lexi Lowe, another porn model with a sizeable Twitter following, told Channel 4 News: "You can have a warning which comes up every time you post a picture which says click if you want to see it. So it doesn't just come up on someone's screen. They have to click to see it. That's as censored as Twitter gets. I try to be clear on my bio that it's an 18-plus acccount."

But the warnings can be dismissed with a single click to reveal the image, and unlike Ms Lowe many people posting pornographic material do not bother marking their images as adults-only in the first place.

Read Geoff White's blog: The porn dilemma facing Twitter


Mark Hassell of Paul Raymond publications, for which Ms Lowe and Ms Jae model, said: "We have a filter on Facebook that says anyone who views it has to be 18 plus.

"I think Twitter should look at filtering and putting in an 18+ restriction. I think everyone in the adult industry would think that's the right thing. We have children and younger family members and don't want them seeing stuff that is too full-on and inappropriate."

Content filters

Our investigation also highlights serious flaws in the content filters put in place by many internet companies and backed by David Cameron.

Only one company blocks Twitter (BT, for users of its "moderate" level filter). None of the others filter out the site, nor its pornographic content.

Instead, there is growing evidence that some parental control filters are blocking access to the very sites that aim to protect adults as well as young people from what in some cases can be the damaging effects of porn.

The adult controls in some cases block access to porn addiction counselling clinics, because the sites refer to sexual themes.

News

Robert Hudson, who runs a counselling service dealing with problems around sex and mental health, did not know his site had been blocked until he was told by Channel 4 News.

"We used very explicit terms because we thought someone who is addicted to pornography will often be ashamed. So if we say what we treat then it makes it much easier for people to come forward and ask for help," he said.

"It is a concern (that my site is shown as blocked) because some people will get scared off and be frightened, thinking: hang on a second this is a dodgy website."

The Open Rights Group has compiled details of thousands of sites that have been wrongly blocked.

Its Executive Director Jim Killock said: "Part of the issue is that site owners don't even know they're being blocked. We're seeing everything from builders to girl guide groups having their sites blocked, and the first they know of it is when a friend or colleague mentions it to them."

Twitter declined to respond but did say such content represents as little as 0.1 per cent of daily content.

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