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Twitter exposes photo galleries, nudity and all

A new feature called User Galleries displays images on profile pages that Twitter users have shared via Yfrog, Twitpic, and other such services.

CNET's User Galleries page.

Twitter has quietly added a new photo gallery feature, called User Galleries, to its service.

When users now view a Twitter profile page, they'll find a "Recent Images" pane showing photos the user recently shared with followers. They can opt to view individual images from that page or click "view all" to see the last 100 photos the user shared on the site. With that option, they'll be able to choose an image from a thumbnail listing at the top, and view it in ful-screen mode. The tweet that accompanied the image is also shown.

A grid view is also available for users to see larger thumbnails.

According to Twitter, all the images are listed in chronological order, though any photos shared before January 1, 2010, will not be included in the listing. In order to populate the page, Twitter said it has grabbed images from its own photo-sharing service, along with images shared via services such as Yfrog, Twitpic, and Instagram.

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By doing so, Twitter could be bringing more content to its site than some might like. It appears that the User Galleries are not censored in any way, which means that nude images of people are freely accessible from the service. Users will also find thumbnails of nude images on another person's profile page under the "Recent Images" heading.

Over the years, Twitter has been somewhat standoffish when it comes to nude images. The company prohibits users from uploading nude photos as their profile pictures or background images. However, it does not necessarily prohibit nudity from its site, and actually offers an account setting called "Mark my media as containing sensitive content" for folks that might want to share such pictures. When images are marked with that tag, users must click through a warning message before viewing the content.

Twitter's User Galleries in detail view.
Twitter's User Galleries in detail view. Twitter

"We do not mediate content, whether that content is an image or text; however, some content is not permissible by law," Twitter's Media Policy reads. "All content should be marked appropriately, as per our guidelines. You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content."

With User Galleries, it appears that Twitter is following that policy. However, although the nude content was previously shared through the social network's profiles by way of links, in order to view images, for the most part, people would head to photo-sharing services or click through Twitter's warning message to see them. Now the content is readily viewable, albeit as thumbnails, from profile pages--places that, as mentioned, do not allow for nude images to be viewable as soon as someone sees them.

In response to CNET's request for comment on nudity in User Galleries, Twitter pointed to its Media Policy and rules violations. The latter says users have the right to flag content they deem inappropriate.

"People all over the world upload images and share their experiences," a Twitter representative said in a statement to CNET, echoing what the company says on its "Media Settings and Best Practices" page. "We hope you will benefit from most of the images others are sharing on Twitter; however, you may unexpectedly see images that you find offensive.

"By default, you automatically see images and videos only from people you follow," the representative continued. "Additionally, you can choose to view media from people you don't follow, and to view media that may contain sensitive content without a warning. If you are concerned about viewing sensitive content, you should keep your default settings. Your default settings will help by providing warnings before seeing content that has been marked as possibly sensitive, and content from users you do not follow."

Twitter's User Galleries launch comes just days after the company completed the rollout of its own official photo-sharing service. When users want to upload an image from Twitter, they can click a camera icon to do so. Twitter's photo-sharing option is powered by Photobucket.