First Facebook, next Apple? Twitter's future is tangled up in Vine

Twitter's video sharing app has kicked up a kerfuffle with Facebook; now its fate may rest squarely in the hands of Apple

The life cycle of an app has become to resemble that of a fruit fly. It's here and gone before most people have looked up from their morning coffee to scan the day's headlines.

Last Thursday, Twitter introduced Vine, a new video-sharing app. Within virtually minutes, Vine had already gotten into a tussle with Facebook over access to friends lists. A day later the folks at PXi Ventures had developed a site that let non-Vine members look at stuff people had posted in real time. This was quickly matched by another migraine-inducing site that displays the most recent 20 Vine videos posted at the same time. By Sunday, it was revealed Vine had already become a plaything of the adult industry.

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Now it's Monday, which can mean only one thing: It's time for Vine to get banned from the App Store. Then the circle will be complete.

At this moment, you're probably asking yourself: What the #&*$#! is Vine, and why the #*#&! should I care? I can't answer the second question, but I can answer the first. Remember how animated GIFs made such a huge comeback last year? Vine is like a GIF that has graduated from college and finally gotten a real job.

Give Vine six seconds, and it can show you the world -- or as much world as you can cram into a snippet of stop-action video. The way it works is blissfully simple. Aim your iPhone camera at your subject. Touch the screen. Lift your finger when you want to stop shooting. Move the object (baby, cat, Gumby or Pokey doll). Touch the screen, then lift. Repeat as many times as you can manage in a six-second interval. When you're done, tap to post it to the Vine site, Twitter, or Facebook.

Not surprisingly, Vine has already been used to capture innumerable clips of cute kittens, adorable babies, mouthwatering meals, truly creative animations involving Legos and sock monkeys, and people having sex. Yes, we here in Cringeville are shocked -- shocked -- to discover that a service that allows you to upload and share video content for free is being abused for pornographic purposes.

Vine is also searchable by hashtag. If you want to skip over the babies, kittens, and sock monkeys and go straight to the heaving and moaning, all you need do is enter the (in)appropriate search terms. Vine made it even simpler for one-handed typists by briefly making a porn-related hashtag an "Editor's Pick" this morning. (It then removed the pick and apologized.)

[Update: Twitter subsequently banned searching for certain hashtags (I'll leave you to guess which ones, you dirty minded louts). So the porn is still there, it's just harder to find. I can't imagine that this will make the App Store mandarins happy, though.] 

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