The Future Looks Murky
How will social media platforms ultimately react to SESTA/FOSTA?
The sex worker internets are all abuzz about Tumblr's new path toward anti-porn. What was once a safe haven for sex workers, porn lovers and budding exhibitionists will, as of December 17th, be completely adult-content free. Everyone, including myself, took to social media to announce Tumblr's demise, pointing out the truth that even Tumblr must know: No one goes on Tumblr for anything else but porn.
But you can't blame Tumblr, can you? Tumblr didn't wake up one morning and decide to throw their entire business down the drain for nothing. In March of this year, two bills passed from the House and the Senate. The one from the House is called FOSTA, an acronym for Fight Online Sex Trafficking. The Senate bill is called Sesta, or Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.
These bills were initially written to help stop sex trafficking, but what it actually did was create very serious consequences for both at-will sex workers, folks who like porn and any social media platform.
How, you may say? Prior to SESTA/FOSTA, websites were not legally held accountable for user generated content that was published on their platforms. That meant that Tumblr really didn't need to keep a super close eye on every single thing posted because they weren't on the hook for it legally. SESTA/FOSTA jabs that freedom in the throat by seeking to hold websites legally accountable in the event that anyone posts unlawful content. Since Tumblr and every other platform can't possibly verify if every tit, vagina or dick is ABSOLUTELY 18 years old and consensually posting that on their platform, they were forced to change their terms of service knowing full well they were writing up their own death sentence. Sex workers screamed and yelled about this forever, no one listened, and it passed.
I went through my Tumblr and found the majority of my posts tagged by Tumblr as "explicit," including ones where I'm wearing a calf length dress, fully clothed. There was an option to appeal the tag, and I did. I then went through and painstakingly edited or deleted every single post for the past 3 years that had any nudity at all, and I appealed the rest. It is anyone's guess whether my account will withstand Tumblr's Slut Cull on December 2018, but I'm trying. And given the option Tumblr has allowed of appealing each post, perhaps there is a chance my page will survive.
There are many other websites, however, that won't give you that opportunity. Instagram deletes accounts automatically that they deem inappropriate, whether or not they even are inappropriate. They don't allow nudity on their site— unless you're Playboy, with 7 million followers and bare bottoms showing. Or perhaps they don't allow nudity from individuals—unless you're Allison Parker with 8 million followers and nudity in nearly every post. Perhaps you just need to be famous, except that Riley Reid, a famous pornstar, had her account deleted on Instagram. Perhaps you just can't advertise your OnlyFans page, except that again, Allison Parker advertises her adult Celeb.TV account in her bio and story. Perhaps you need to be able to verify yourself, except that Riley Reid is verified and Allison Parker isn't. Tricky, right? The rules aren't clear, and Instagram isn't launching a Columbo style investigation to get to the bottom of it because they don't give care. They're like an eight year old with a board game: They make up their own rules as they go along, it's their game, it's their house and they don't care if you pack up and go home. Your page with 100,000 followers doesn't pull in the advertising dollars that Playboy and Allison Parker does, so they stay and your ass goes.
Twitter currently is where everyone is still living for the time being. It feels like being in the one whorehouse in town that hasn't been raided yet, while we all frantically download (and later delete) new crappy social media apps to try that no one is on, have awful interfaces and may still ultimately crumble in the wake of SESTA/FOSTA.
It's one thing to watch an entire country ignore the impending SESTA/FOSTA bills and watch them pass. It's another thing to watch the same people who ignored that, become angry that there are now consequences for this disaster. It's yet another thing when sex workers can't seem to survive on social media platforms while following various companies' Terms of Service to the letter, both before and after SESTA/FOSTA. So the question is: What are social media platforms going to do when sex workers abide by whatever new rules they set in place? Will Tumblr and Twitter continue to be a safe haven as long as we take out the nudity? If we don't mention our websites anywhere but in DM, will that work? Will there be clear parameters, or will everyone become the shitty Instagram kid?
Facebook, AKA Instagram's crummy step-dad, recently revamped their own terms of service to state that even uttering your own sexual preference on their platform could be grounds for deletion. Is it possible for Instagram to become an even bigger dickhead? It seems mathematically impossible given it's current level of dickishness, but it isn't, really. Because we as a country allowed this; people were so busy masturbating to Tumblr that we forgot to pay attention to the impending doom of our freedom. https://stopsesta.org/