Since Martin Belcher, a 50-year-old customer-services adviser based in the U.K., joined Twitter in 2012, he’s tweeted out thousands of naked photos of himself hiking, gardening, reading, eating, and watering his lawn. His nearly 3,000 followers respond by favoriting, retweeting, and frequently sharing nude photos of their own.
Belcher isn’t a porn star or spam account sharing unsolicited photographs of his penis—he’s part of the thriving community of nudists on Twitter who have flocked to the platform after most others have made a policy of censoring or banning images of naked bodies. Nudists on Facebook have had their profiles suspended after failing to properly crop or censor their photos. On Instagram, they’ve been penalized for showing female nipples or too much pubic hair. Tumblr allows NSFW (Not Safe for Work) content, but nudists say the platform is so overrun with spam that it’s unusable.
Meanwhile, two of the very things that have made Twitter toxic for many people—its maximalist commitment to free speech and its lack of enforcement of real names—have also, strangely, made it the best place to be a nudist on the internet.
“Twitter is the main community for nudists,” Belcher says. “Most nudists use Twitter as their primary social network because we can post our photos and it’s a gathering place to make friends.” Belcher estimates that tens of thousands of nudists are active on Twitter, if not more.