Online Censorship – How censorship affects the lives of artists, sex workers and you (navigating terms and conditions)

 

@regards_coupables, a french artist is known for their minimalist erotic illustrations had their 1 million follower account deleted by Instagram last week. Representatives of the social media platform failed to provide an explanation concerning specific cases but did release a statement on Twitter where they maintained that the updates to their terms of use do not unfairly target sex workers.

 

The illustrators’ case is only one out of countless profiles that have been labelled as “sexually suggestive” by the platform’s content moderators, resulting in an account suspension or complete deletion for violating their community guidelines.

 

Social media’s war on sex is a multi-layered and highly political trend that is already starting to have harmful repercussions reaching far beyond the digital realm. Vague terminology allows industry giants to dictate what is and is not sexually explicit or suggestive, often lending itself to unconscious biases and patriarchal beliefs.

 

Why platforms censor “sexually suggestive” content

There is a clear pattern of censorship that can be seen across communities and platforms. Most social media platforms launch with a very open policy, intended for all types of creators. The adult industry and sex workers are often at the forefront of new technologies, working as a catalyser for platforms growth and popularity. Once the platform reaches a certain level of visibility and buzz, big influencers, celebrities and mainstream brands become aware of its potential for their own online marketing, bringing along their millions of mainstream followers.

 

At this stage of a social media platform’s evaluation, erotic content becomes problematic for them: The controversial bill package FOSTA-SESTA that was signed into law in 2018 under president Trump was originally intended to target illegal sex trafficking online. But instead of directly targeting websites known to facilitate sex trafficking, the FOSTA-SESTA hybrid essentially sets up a template for “broad-based censorship” across the web. As a consequence of this problematic judicial change, numerous websites such as Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, Craigslist took action to censor or ban parts of their platforms.

 

The main reason for this global rise of censorship is not so much a change of moral standards across platforms, but more so companies trying to avoid damaging their ability to make money. Once a platform is under the public radar, and monetizable, allowing erotic content becomes just too much of a risk. Trafficking and solicitation laws prevent users from offering or asking for pornographic material, however, these restrictions are not evenly enforced, and extend far beyond sex workers. Accounts focused on sexual health and wellness, revenge porn laws, and as highlighted earlier, erotic art, have all had to get creative when it comes to terminology and verbiage used. Searchability and discoverability are imperative for community growth, while restricting access and limiting language maintains a status quo of shame and secrecy when it comes to sexuality and sex work.

 

the FOSTA-SESTA hybrid essentially sets up a template for “broad-based censorship” across the web.

Marginalised groups are most affected by censorship

Now, how does censorship actually work in practice? How do the social media algorithms know what is considered “sexually suggestive” and what isn’t?

 

Nude and sexual images are monitored on a case to case basis. Algorithms are assumed to be neutral and math-based, but the technology has the biases of the developers programmed into it, making it far from neutral. The biases built into algorithms and automated technology are reflective of their databases and favour people who hold similar values as the creators  – which are, to no surprise, mostly white men.

 

The flagging system, therefore, has a disproportionate impact on marginalised groups. These platforms are built by those who benefit from a White supremacist, patriarchal, colonized society the most, and the same tools used to maintain control in the world are digitized and built into the applications.  The algorithms hold men to a different standard than women or queer folks. Notions of indecency aren’t just gendered, they also align with cultural ideas of appropriate appearance — meaning that women of colour, disabled women, trans women and fat women are under stricter scrutiny compared to their white, thin and able-bodied peers.

 

Hundreds of porn stars and sex workers had their Instagram accounts deleted towards the end of 2020. Many say that they’re being held to a scrupulous and severe standard, more so than mainstream celebrities who post similar content.

 

These platforms are built by those who benefit from a White supremacist, patriarchal, colonized society the most, and the same tools used to maintain control in the world are digitized and built into the applications.  The algorithms hold men to a different standard than women or queer folks

What’s being allowed online also indicates what we see as acceptable in real life

The bodies, sexualities and desires that are allowed online, translate into the bodies, sexualities and desires that are accepted in “offline” society.

 

When body positivity accounts disappear, we are left with the archetype of “socially acceptable” bodies that saturate mass media.

 

Depriving online communities of sex-positive content and education means losing vital resources that are badly needed to work towards social justice and gender equality. 

 

Restricting sex workers access to social media limits their ability to be seen as autonomous human being. It negatively impacts their business and subsequently their revenue, further marginalising their work and the community they belong to. By allowing similar content from mainstream celebrities, the idea that there is an acceptable way to sell sex and sex appeal is reinforced and conveyed to the masses.

 

How Nftreats intends to become a safe and censorship-free platform for erotic artists and sex workers

One key issue that leads to platforms censoring erotic content is that they were not created with sex workers in mind. NFTreats is a marketplace specifically designed for erotic non-fungible tokens. We consider erotic artists, sex workers and their fans our long-term community. Therefore, we are building our business model and financial structure around and for them, instead of considering them means to an end for future customer bases.

 

Another important factor is that payment providers are equally as affected by censorship as marketplaces and social media platforms. Cryptocurrency provides a solution to this problem.

 

NFTs are a great way to build a censorship-free part of the internet, where the democratization of art and freedom of expression is integral to the success of the marketplace.

 

NFTs are a great way to build a censorship-free part of the internet, where the democratization of art and freedom of expression is integral to the success of the marketplace.

 

info

general enquiries

marketing enquiries

©2021 nftreats.art
all rights reserved