How Social Media is Silencing the Sex Industry

Four of the culprits: Patreon, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Every morning, I expect to wake up to news that yet another social media platform is demanding that content creators in the sex industry censor ourselves and our work to their liking.

Whether it’s the creation of a new policy, like the still-murky Patreon guidelines that affect “adult” accounts, especially porn performers and producers, or the enforcement of an existing one, like Facebook ads denying any kind of paid promotion for posts that have to do with sex (even educational events), at this point I expect social media corporations to fight me and my community at every turn.

This isn’t an exaggeration. The truth is that content creators in the sex industry — writers, educators, performers, producers, bloggers, podcasters, photographers, etc. — have no supportive social media platforms to turn to any longer. And the platforms we do utilize, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon, are becoming more hostile every day.

Chip by Chip, Block by Block…

Comparatively speaking, this social media silencing is happening slowly. It’s not like these platforms decided on some all-at-once, coordinated effort: “Okay, on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 1:30 PM Eastern time, we’re rolling out new guidelines and regulations on adult content. Everyone who talks about sex will be banned forever. Go team!”

What’s actually happening is much, much more insidious than that.

This is about the seemingly small things, the things that really aren’t small at all, that add up over time. A Patreon policies change here. A minor adjustment to Twitter Terms of Service there. Yet another sex educator unable to promote their event on Facebook in that corner. Instagram deleting user accounts because of pictures of dildos and strap-ons in another corner. Twitter shadowbans here, there, and everywhere. Facebook’s “real name” sweep that weeded out, and in some cases even outed, sex educators and bloggers doing work under a non-legal name. The list goes on.

Looking at these examples individually, it could be easy to explain them away: “Ah, one new guideline isn’t too bad.” “That website sucked anyway!” “Hey, at least you’ve still got (insert other social media platform here), right?”

Wrong. We don’t have that other social media platform anymore — there’s some kind of stigmatizing, anti-sex policy in all of them. And the combined effect of all of those policies is staggering.

We Shouldn’t Need to Start from Scratch

Sometimes I daydream about creating a new adult content utopia where we’re free to share our work without restriction — but we shouldn’t be forced to start over. We shouldn’t be pushed out.

I am all for tearing down oppressive, capitalistic, sex-shaming structures and systems in favor of creating a better world. However, the heart of the matter here is that we shouldn’t have to create something new. We need our current social media platforms to work for and with us, to drop the stigma, to recognize that working in the sex industry is just as valid as any other career, to allow us to promote beyond our networks to reach new people.

Many of us have spent years crafting our brands and amassing online followings. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon are where our followers, listeners, and readers are. To start from scratch and rebuild our audiences would be an exhausting, massive expenditure of time and skilled labor that most of us need to put towards making money and surviving.

What’s more, our work deserves to be seen on popular, mainstream platforms. We should be front and center, affirmed and celebrated for the life-changing work our community does every day.

This Is How Censorship Works, Plain and Simple

The truth of what social media corporations are doing to people in the sex industry is terrifying.  Platforms are effectively pushing adult content creators out, and that should worry everyone, no matter what field you’re in.

We’re literally being punished for talking about our work. Punished for choosing a career in sex education, sex blogging, sex work. Punished for trying to promote our work like anyone else in any other career field is allowed to do. Punished for showing our bodies. Punished for existing.

This doesn’t just affect us as content creators — it also renders our work invisible to new people. Sex-related work, be it education, blogging, vlogging, podcasts, porn, photography, you name it, benefits everyone. When we’re shuttered out from being able to share and promote our work, we can’t reach people who may need it.

This is not a small thing. This shouldn’t be business as usual. This is silencing, this is censorship, and it calls for intense pushback. We deserve much better than this.

It’s more important than ever to support your favorite sex-related content creators. If you’re able, considering supporting us financially. You can also participate in Share Our Shit Saturday to get the word out about posts you loved, appreciated, or resonated with each week.

You can support me financially here.

  • Merle Hill 2000

    Sarah,

    Your points are well taken; in the quest for “respectability” and to “take their place in the mainstream media” the large social media corporations have started to follow the risk-adverse approach of other large businesses. I would urge those sex writers, thinkers, and various advocates to break from the giant media operators and strike out in new directions (own web sites, new Internet presence portals, and new webcasts) to escape the quickly ossifying social media giants.

    Great post on your part!