The war on Sex Workers goes in the second round
Instagram is home to a lot of “sexy content” that will now start to get fewer or zero views. I would go so far as to say that “sexy” was part of Instagram’s huge success story, considering all the Kardashians and other “Celebs” posting sexy content there. And considering the millions of users who are on Instagram not to follow cat pictures or food porn, but to follow “hot girls”, making it the preferred platform for celebrities and influencers.
Regardless of that, Instagram just announced, “We have begun reducing the spread of posts that are inappropriate but do not go against Instagram’s Community Guidelines.” That means if someone’s post is sexually suggestive, but doesn’t contain a sex act or nudity, it will get them in trouble, they are either shadow-banned or kicked off from Instagram — but only if they’re not a Kardashian, I guess.
Sex workers, who are already affected by the Tumblr purge, are well aware of whats really going on.
Many sex workers rely on Instagram to reach out to their fans and to sell their products, like every other mainstream content creator. But now they are becoming a target. The definition of “Sexually Suggestive” content just fits to everything they post from now on, because you could always just link it to the underlying product they sell.
Instagram allows every content creator, artist, or small entrepreneur to build an audience and communicate with this audience at any moment in time — if you do not work in the adult industry of course.
Many brands use social media to sell products. Social media and eCommerce are interlocked. Instagram takes this now away from every NSFW content creator around the globe. And that is wrong.
As many sex workers are already getting blocked (and if they’re lucky unblocked after a couple of weeks) on Instagram, even if they don’t violate the Community Guidelines, it will get worse from here.
Instagram also said that they have “started to use machine learning to determine if the actual media posted is eligible to be recommended to our community”. Here it’s starts to get very interesting, as our team was playing around with that technology during a hackathon just this week.
The product we build during this short period of only 12h with a very small team of 20+ people was called #FindThePornstar and, after we finished, we have been able to detect easily if a person in a picture was a well known pornstar or not. We want to use this technology in favor of NSFW content creators, to identify their content (even if watermarks are removed) to give the original content creator credit for it. Despite what the name #FindThePornstar might suggest, it was never intended to expose if someone is a pornstar or not. But that’s exactly what Instagram’s algorithm could do.
Remember, if a small team of 20+ people could complete a project like this in one single day, imagine what Instagram with a team of over a thousand with offices around the world can do.
They could do this, fully automated:
We wrote an Open Letter to Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO, and to
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, and we told them:
If you are in fact not targeting sex workers, now would be a good time to re-assure them that they are still welcome on Instagram (as long as they follow your guidelines, of course). If not — and we bet that it will play out like that — they are always welcome on Sharesome, the NSFW social media platform built with the needs of Sex Workers in mind. You (and Tumblr) built your business on “sexy”, but it seems you just forgot about that.
I do not think the sex workers community will get an answer. But It felt right to ask for an answer.
What I personally think about all of this?
Platforms like Tumblr and Instagram are first building their business on on top of content creators, and that includes NSFW content creators, or at least their sexy content (the rest is cats and food porn), and then they drop ’em. They cut sex workers off from revenue, from their income and don’t give a fuck. It makes me angry.
But let’s face reality. And reality is: Sex workers are generating 100 billion US dollar a year. It’s a huge industry and it generates jobs. But at the same time, they are kicked of from social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr right now, under our watch. And the time is ticking and there is no doubt that Twitter, Snapchat and Reddit will follow. I predict that since more than a year and it’s happening. And it makes me angry too.
My team and I are building Sharesome.com for NSFW content creator as an alternative to mainstream social media already, and we came far. More than 800k unique visitors are already there every month. That’s not nothing.
We build Sharesome not because we want to, because we fucking need to. We need to wake up. And everyone who knows that social media presence is important for NSFW content creators needs to start to #MoveToSharesome! Everyone who wants to continue seeing sexy content and wants to interact with NSFW content creators directly on social media needs to start to #MoveToSharesome as well (and #PayForYourPorn).
If we don’t start this movement now, mainstream social media will leave us completely de-platformed. Now there is still a chance to move the needle and use the existing platforms to redirect fans. But after the Sex Worker Apocalypse, after the last purge, there will be no more fans to talk to and then we will build this thing from the scratch.
Around 600m people consume adult content every month. I urge the Sex Workers Community to build a unstoppable social media beast that can be bigger than Twitter, and almost as big as Instagram, based on these numbers.
This is how we change the rules of the game.