Scattered thoughts on porn

I wanted to consolidate some thoughts I had. This is a rough collection of ideas rather than an organized essay.

Porn is in a precarious and almost unique position in American law. Every tech company crackdown, every “won’t someone think of the children”, every “I don’t care if you do that, but don’t do it here” actually makes it harder to win court cases. They make it easier for some regressive lawyer to tell you that what you do in private among consenting adults is “obscene”.

It’s disturbing seeing 2010-2020 have such a backslide on racy online content. The way the law actually works depends on “contemporary community standards”.

Obscenity is neither enshrined in the Constitution nor does it only ratchet towards “more obscene”. It must be protected.

I’ll make it more clear. Basically all the porn you look at (and I know most you look at porn) can be used against you to make your life miserable in a court of law. You would have to hire expensive lawyers to defend yourself as you are humiliated in open court. Most people simply don’t have the money to defend from such an attack.

But there are definitely eras of pornography that hold cultural significance that were lost due to the taboo of it all and niche distribution.

One good example of this is that early film depictions of explicitly gay men and their lived in America were almost exclusively pornography because the recognition that gay culture outside of gay sex was not (and honestly still isn’t for a lot of people) differentiated.

On porn crackdowns (Apple, Twitter, YouTube, even PORNHUB [verified only]):

The game here is not to eradicate porn. They know they’ll never win.

But they CAN marginalize, humiliate, and silence queer and kink communities. Shove them back in their little boxes and make them think they’re alone. Make them miserable and unable to participate in society.

The ultimate vision of Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, et al is:

  1. Never see a boob on their products
  2. Make it so you can only see boobs on porn sites, instead of leather, diapers, vore, pegging, exhibitionism, pregnancy, and all the other beautiful expressions there are.

The way I see it, we’re less than a decade away from total control of porn on the public web. The AWS+MS+GCP cloud singularity continues and is able to crush competition with economies of scale.

Then whoops, we don’t want your weird porn on our platforms. 🥺

Paypal, Patreon, Mastercard, and other payment platforms are similarly against porn. Patreon especially hates smalltime kinky queers.

There’s an angle with US law as well (SESTA / FOSTA) which I’m not qualified to go into.

Mindgeek and other porn empires will adapt, but in ways that favor the mainstream. Pornhub reacted aggressively to its non-existent moderation of user content, after all its payment systems revolted. So no more user uploads unless you’re “verified”.

Who is the least likely to get “verified”? To associate their real name and identity with their porn? To find a payment provider or web host willing to have them?

Amateurs, kinksters, and queers. The less mainstream, the less hope they have of being welcome on any major site.

See also: Decoding Stigma has some well educated people (mostly? sex workers) on the intersection of tech, sex, and paternalism.

PS. I’m not sure where “advertisers hate porn” came from. It seems true, but also based on advertisers' incorrect assumptions. What percentage of most companies' users don’t look at porn? This says 72% of women and 34% of men, which feels high and inaccurate.

The playbook has been run perfectly.

☑️ Pornhub bans amateur content “temporarily”
☑️ They promise a mandatory user verification step (no more anonymous porn creation)
☑️ People’s free, legal speech is chilled under the threat of humiliation that their verified ID leaks

Porn is in a precarious position across the globe. Everyone chuckles and admits that most people use it, yet governments are getting more and more daring in telling people what kinds of porn they’re allowed to have. This also makes it easier to crack down on paid porn.

It’s legal to get paid to make porn (assuming it’s of consenting adults, etc.), but the federal government likes teaming up with the banks and corporations to make it as difficult as possible to actually make money from it and be treated like a human.

Apple hates porn.

And they LITERALLY think adults seeing porn on Discord is worse than LITERALLY inciting a white supremacist riot.

Epic’s Games Store VP won’t stand up for porn: “I don’t support sexualized content of any sort”. The implication is that Steve Allison does not support porn. Although I fully support his right to avoid porn in private, I suspect there have been parts of his life where he wasn’t so staunchly anti-porn. A journalist should contact him to clarify his anti-porn stance.

Many YouTube innovations can be traced to porn sites a few years prior (ex. thumbnails in the timeline)

Love living in an extremely normal country where sex is legal, porn is legal, and paying for porn is legal, yet nebulous “sex trafficking laws” (FOSTA?) can plausibly be cited as a reason why a $1 trillion company can crack down on vulnerable groups of people

The US government SUCCESSFULLY cracked down on porn and got actual convictions. This was less than 15 years ago.

On copyright in general - the porn angle here is that commercial interests never preserve old porn, even though it is historically and artistically meaningful

I hate linking this because I both love it and think it’s rough. Revising it is on my todo list.