Up-and-coming video sharing app Vine seems perfectly tailored to young sensibilities, since it lets you stitch together fun looping videos and share them with friends. The Twitter-owned app resembles a video version of Instagram, an app with enormous appeal to tweens and teens, and is also has GIF-like elements – which, obviously, the entire Internet loves.
But Apple’s draconian anti-adult content policies threaten Vine’s potential as a teen obsession. The new app catapulted to the top of App Store download charts, but not without a major snafu. Vine’s debut drew critical praise and lots of inventive looping images, but it also drew something unexpected: explicit sexual videos. To make matters worse, Vine curators accidentally chose one of these overtly sexual clips as an “Editors Pick,” which threw it to the top of all users’ feeds and thus drew additional attention to the problem.
Apple’s App Store is notoriously prudish when it comes to app content, and Vine’s lascivious images could not go unpunished. Apple yanked Vine from its “Featured Section,” which undoubtled impacted its download numbers. In an act of penance to the Cupertino gods, Vine adopted a 17+ age rating. It also added a feature to let you block or warn lecherous users.
The most recent iteration, Vine 1.05, requires users be 17 years or older to download the app. This means waving goodbye to high school and junior high users, which could have made up a generous slice of Vine’s fans. This demographic is also a driving force behind the adoption of mobile-social apps – see the rise of Instagram and Snapchat if you need proof.
Of course, there’s no way to strictly enforce this rating, so intrepid teens can easily bypass the rating by lying about their age.
This isn’t a bad thing, since by and large the material found on Vine is wholesome and certainly nothing more scandalous than your average Twitter or Instagram feed. And since all Vines are set for public viewing, it’s a lot less likely teens will shed clothes and post in their skivvies for the world to see on Vine, whereas the potential for salacious posing on Snapchat is much greater. Still, Vine seems undeserving of the new rating.
Since Snapchat lets users send disappearing photos from person-to-person, it seems like a secure platform for sharing naughty images, but there are many ways users can preserve the fleeting pictures and post them for the world to see. Since the potential for underage mischief is so much greater on Snapchat (and Facebook’s Poke, for that matter), it’s absolutely overkill for Vine to be the app smacked with an adult ranking.