The Dark side of the Tweet

I’m a BIG FAN Croydon. The people and places in my local borough are all very dear to my heart and it is a robust, effervescent community. However, it would be incredibly remiss of me to downplay Croydon’s seedy underbelly.

Croydon is one of the biggest ports for human-trafficking in the UK. There are also several brothels active in the area that are fronted as legitimate businesses.

In light of this, it is not surprising that last week tweets like these started to turn up on the Croydon twitterfeed:

Reactions from local Tweeters ranged from jocular:

To the positively outraged (disclaimer – this isn’t me):

To be clear: Prostitution is not illegal in England. Brothels are however and any establishment where more than one prostitute works on the premises constitutes a brothel.

Having not clicked any of the links I don’t know the exact details of these tweets. Whether they are advertising the services of one prostitute, a brothel or simply leading to pornographic material, you can see from other people’s reactions that it is not the sort of stuff people wish to have in the public domain.

Further confounding the problem, is the fact that @croydonfeed is a bot programmed to retweet periodically any tweet that contains the #croydon hastag. As such, it provides an invaluable service in curating Croydon-related news but is unmoderated, unmanned and does not fall under the duristriction of any particular person (I’m not sure who set it up) or authority.

The issue then is not just of morality but also one of regulation. Not simply should we stop this sort of tweet but can we?

My two questions are:

  • What do you think about adult services and material being advertised on Twitter?
  • How can we stop the [automated] proliferation of such material? (is it a technological or legal issue?)

About jonathanrose

Raconteur. Intellectual. Showerman.
This entry was posted in New Media, Social Media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Dark side of the Tweet

  1. It can totally be done with AI! I’ll spare you the technicalities, but it’d be the same basic principles that go into e-mail filters and such. Okay, there’d be some false positive errors and you’d have feeds filtered which aren’t actually ads for prostitutes, but over time the algorithm would improve and you’d have a pretty efficient filtering system.


  2. I think the more advanced Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck has made @Croydonfeed and similar re-tweeting bots mostly redundant.

    You can now setup columns with the hashtags you’re interested in and get notifications far quicker than following a retweeting bot. Invariably someone will abuse hashtags and post links to services some may deem inappropriate, but if the content of the tweek looks suspicious, no one is forcing you to follow the links.

    • jonathanrose says:

      Neil, you’re definitely right in that personal hashtag lists mean bots are no lot the first port of call for certain keywords. However, you this doesn’t remedy the problem that everything with ‘#croydon’ will still turn up in your hashtag search on Tweetdeck. That would include the intriguing services of ‘Tina’.

      I’d also agree that noone is under any compulsion to follow these tweets. But what if these ‘Tina tweets’ begin to spam the #croydon feed on a more frequent basis? So that they completely monopolise the #croydon on every minute of the day. Or what if even stronger material with pictures were posted?

      I’m genuinely interested in what ways we could remedy this although I’m aware it’s a big (or even unwelcome!) question as most people are instinctively not keen on regulation or the policing of most services.

      Maybe the thrust of this post should not be seen as a moral inquiry and more about the regulation/policing of Twitterfeeds (or lack of).

  3. newtonslife says:

    I used to have a ford Escort if that helps ?

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