Why Are So Many Politicians 'Liking' Porn Tweets?

CYBERSPACE—In September, the ultra-conservative Texas senator and Ted Cruz clicked “like” on a Twitter post that contained an explicit porn image. Or at least, someone with access to Cruz’s account clicked on the familiar little heart below the post to signify that this particular porn tweet was a “favorite.”

But the Cruz incident was not an isolated one. Florida state legislator Ross Spano recently introduced legislation that would classify porn as “public health crisis” in his state. But that as with Cruz, the Twitter account in Spano’s name had clicked “like” on a porn-friendly tweet, this one containing an excerpt from the lesbian porn video Expert Oral Sex 17.

In the world of TV sports, CBS weekend NFL football apparently tweeted out an image from , “Sexy little brunette bitch sucking and fucking her personal trainer’s big cock!”

The Brown incident was reminiscent of a bizarre tweet in 2014 from the official corporate account of US Airways, when the airline with a passenger by somehow tweeting an explicit image of a nude woman apparently using a model airplane as a sex toy.

The epidemic of Twitter porn “likes” and tweets has even reached Down Under, where Australian Senior Government Minister Christopher Pyne was a gay porn image, and Health Minister Greg Hunt on a “facial queen” porn tweet.

Cruz blamed one of his junior staff members for the porn “like” on his account. Spano simply denied that he had made the lesbian porn “like.” Brown and the two Australian politicians blamed “hackers” while US Airways simply said the porn post was a mistake that happened with they tried to flag an image as inappropriate.

But what really accounts for the outbreak of seemingly rogue porn likes on Twitter? Is it all the fault of rogue employees and hackers? According to one Australian columnist, , the answer lies not in the public figures themselves and their clandestine appetites for porn—but with Twitter itself and the popular social media site’s “really poor user interface design.”

“As you scroll mobile Twitter on a phone, the ‘heart’ or ‘like’ button slides directly under your thumb,” Birmingham wrote in the paper. “Every time. It's surprisingly easy to ‘like’ anything.”

That could explain the out-of-place “likes,” but what about the stray porn images that turn up in Twitter timelines like Brown’s? Birmingham has an explanation for that as well. The images can turn up when a public figure, or any Twitter user, is not selective about who gets followed back. When a follower retweets an image, it can appear in a user’s timeline.

That “feature” of the social media site turns a user’s Twitter timeline into, Birmingham says, "A clown car horror smash in a towering garbage inferno of other people’s mentions and retweets.”

So how should politicians and other public figures respond when they get called out over porn likes they claim they didn’t make? Don’t blame “hackers,” the columnist reccomends.

“Rather than complaining they’ve been hacked, they could just roll their eyes and go, ‘Yeah, whatevs. Twitter really sucks now,’” Birmingham wrote.