Twitter is a magical invention. It gives us the ability to share our lives in succinct snippets with friends, rub cyber-shoulders with our favourite celebrities and find people that share our interests. For me, my Twitter page is a place where I can connect with other sex bloggers, answer questions from readers and keep my finger on the pulse regarding sex toy news and sexuality issues. I’ve noticed a couple of things that are happening on Twitter that really push the boundaries of consent. It occurred to me that some people might be doing these things without even realising that they were doing anything wrong. So today I want to talk about 3 things you could be doing on Twitter that may be violating the consent of your followers.
1. Having an explicit image as your profile picture.
We all agree that unsolicited dick pics are wrong, right? (And if you don’t then please slam your face in the door on the way out). Well, using a picture of your genitals as your profile picture is the equivalent of sending an unsolicited dick pic to every single person you interact with on Twitter. When that image is your profile picture, it’s not only your followers who see it. It’s the author of every tweet that you like, every person you reply to and everyone who sees your retweets. You might not mind everyone looking at your junk, but showing a pornographic image to people without their consent is sexual harassment. Choose a profile picture that doesn’t feature your junk and keep the raunchy pictures for your feed.
2. Retweeting pornographic images and videos.
I’m a sex positive person who enjoys porn. But that doesn’t mean that I want to see it every time I look at my phone. Sometimes, I’m checking my phone in a public place and I don’t want everyone else on my bus to see a close-up penetration shot. Sometimes I’m just flat-out not in the mood for porn, and the last thing I want is to open Twitter to see a spread beaver. So I don’t follow accounts that post pornographic images. If you want to post the porn, that’s totally your call. But I choose not to follow it.
However, I will regularly check Twitter only to find that one of the people I follow has retweeted a close-up of someone getting jizzed on or a slow-mo BJ. When that happens, I usually wind up muting the person because I just don’t want to see that kind of content. And that makes me sad because that often means that I miss out on interacting with other posts from that person.
I think it’s awesome that you’re allowed to post explicit content on Twitter. It’s one of the few places on the internet where that’s still allowed and I don’t think it should be censored. However I do think that it’s important that people be able to choose what kind of content they see. If you love following explicit accounts on Twitter, that’s awesome! But I’d caution you before you share that content with all of your followers. The people who follow you might not be to happy about a pornographic image showing up in their feed because you retweeted it. I strongly discourage people from retweeting porn on Twitter because there’s a high likelihood that you’ll violate the consent of some of your followers. Be respectful of what you’re sharing and be wary of retweeting anything that shows graphic sexual acts.
3. Continuing to tag people in threads that turn raunchy.
Recently someone retweeted me and someone responded to that retweet in a flirty manner. The tweets between these two continued to fly back and forth and quickly escalated into full-on fetish role play. Which is great…except that the two tweeters still had me tagged in every reply. It was kind of like being locked into a room with two people who are aggressively having sex right in front of you, while you helplessly shout “Hey, guys? Could you unlock the door so that I can leave you to it?”
If you reply to a thread and it begins to get steamy, make sure that you’re not continuing to tag people who aren’t actively part of the conversation. By continuing to tag the original poster, you’re essentially dragging them into a sexual conversation that they did not consent to. Always check which users are tagged in your replies and think about whether any of them is an unwilling third party to your Twitter romp. And if they are, be sure to untag.
Twitter is a fantastic outlet that is ripe with opportunities to meet sex positive people, engage in discussions and share content. But it’s super important to be mindful of the way that you’re using the platform and the potential pitfalls of including followers in content that breaches their boundaries. When it comes to sexually explicit content, you have to be extra careful to make sure that you’re not violating people’s consent with the images and conversations you’re sharing. Think carefully about what you’re sharing and how you’re conversing online, and if you’re ever in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Have you struggled with consent on Twitter? Are there any consent blunders that I haven’t mentioned here?