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Snapchat Takes Down Porn Lenses, May Start Cat-and-Mouse Game

Snapchat quickly removed a handful of x-rated augmented reality lenses Tuesday, dealing a blow to efforts by adult entertainment company Naughty America to promote its subscriptions to the service’s users. However, the porn studio may not be quite done with Snapchat just yet, as it is still distributing the source files that allow Snapchat users to build their own naughty lenses.

Naughty America had begun to distribute Snapchat lenses to its users earlier this week. The lenses allowed Snapchat users to super-impose porn stars in various states of undress over images of their own living room, and share the results with their friends on the service.

Naughty America CEO Andreas Hronopoulos told Variety this week that he understood these lenses to be in compliance with Snapchat’s policies, arguing that he wasn’t making them publicly available, and likening it to sharing personal photos with friends on Snapchat. “We are just privately sharing these,” he said.

Snapchat disagreed, and took down Naughty America’s account and its lenses. A company spokesperson told Variety that this was due to a violation of Snapchat’s terms of service and community guidelines, as well as the company’s lens studio submission guidelines. The latter prohibit the use of content that includes “obscene language or imagery, depictions of nudity, sex acts, or profanity.”

However, the take-down may not be enough to stop the distribution of AR lenses featuring Naughty America’s porn performers on Snapchat. The porn company didn’t just make its own lenses, but also began distributing holographic source files necessary to build similar filters to its users, complete with a manual on how to do so. “Users are downloading and creating them,”  Hronopoulos said Wednesday morning.

This could lead to a ca-and-mouse game, with Naughty America users creating lenses and Snapchat taking them down. Snapchat does police lenses built by its users in a few ways. The company proactively reviews some lens submissions based on usage patters, meaning that it may take a closer look if a new lens suddenly gets a lot of traffic.

It also reviews lenses after they get flagged by its community, and Snapchat’s spokesperson said the company encouraged users to do so if they thought a lens violated their rights or the company’s guidelines (reporting is possible via the “i” shown above a lens).

If anything, the conflict between Snapchat and Naughty America goes to show that user-generated augmented reality isn’t immune to the very same content moderation issues that video sites and other user-generated content hosting services have been dealing with for some time. And as companies like Snapchat are making it easier to build lenses for their services, they’ll likely face these issues a lot more often.

 

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