Understanding Adult Industry Censorship on Social Media Platforms Like Instagram

The adult entertainment industry has a real challenge with social media marketing. Platforms like Twitter are the only mainstream social media networks that permit adult-related content to some degree. That’s why adult platforms, producers, and performers often post uncensored content on Twitter. However, that is changing slowly with concerns related to shadow-banning and Elon Musk.

Pornhub and Instagram

Not too long ago, the adult tube streaming platform Pornhub.com was recently banned from Meta owned Instagram. After public outcry and criticism, Mark Zuckerberg’s photo-sharing site reinstated the website’s official account. Only hours later, Instagram eliminated their account.

Pornhub released a statement denouncing what they call arbitrary censorship. A rep for Pornhub told Variety recently that “Meta has demonstrated that its policies have no rhyme or reason when they deactivated our account again, despite not violating any guidelines. The rep went on to say that “this comes at a time of increased censorship and discrimination against performers in the adult space when platforms like Instagram should be inclusive and provide safe communities for creators to express themselves…We call on [Meta Platforms] to once again reverse its decision.”

Does Instagram Have the Right to Do These Things?

Does Instagram have the right to ban an adult website’s profile? The short answer is “yes.” Here’s why.  Like many other social media platforms, Instagram has community guidelines that aim to create a safe and inclusive environment for all users. One of these guidelines prohibits sharing what the company views as sexually explicit content, including consensual adult pornography. 

Pornhub was banned by Instagram by claiming they were censoring  pornography throughout its platforms. Firstly, it is important to consider the age range of Instagram users. Instagram’s users include millions who are under the age of 18 years and younger. As a platform, Instagram is responsible for ensuring that its users, including minors, are not exposed to potentially harmful and offensive content. Secondly, pornography is claimed to be associated with objectifying and exploiting individuals like women. 

Often, trust and safety professionals – individuals that often investigate and ban content on web platforms – have to decide based on personal experience and perception of culture. That said, this places an inconsistency across the platform’s ecosystem. Nevertheless, pornography on Instagram could potentially lead to negative media attention and potential consequences, including economic implications such as users and revenue. Instagram censors pornography to uphold its community guidelines and protect its users from potentially age-restricted inappropriate and harmful content.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is a law in the United States that provides legal protections to online platforms and service providers for content posted by third party users. 

The law was enacted as part of the broader Telecommunications Act statute. The law was widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of internet legislation in the United States. Section 230 of the CDA states, “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 

This means that internet platforms such as social media sites, forums, and review websites are not liable for content posted by their users as long as they act in good faith to remove or restrict access to illegal or objectionable content. The law has been credited with helping to foster the growth of the internet and promoting free speech online. It has allowed companies to moderate content without fear of being held legally responsible for what users post. However, in recent years, there has been increasing debate over whether Section 230 should be amended or repealed, particularly in light of concerns over the spread of misinformation and hate speech on social media platforms.

Instagram and Section 230

As an interactive computer service under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Instagram is protected from liability for posts and actions of third-party users on its platform. In this context, Instagram can claim that it is acting within its rights as a web platform to regulate and essentially bar certain individuals and organizations from using their platform. Pornhub, however, broke no rules in the terms of service that allow third parties to be active on Instagram’s platform. 

Things Aren’t Crystal Clear

Rather, there is also a hypothesis that the drive for shadowbanning on platforms like Instagram and Twitter is linked to anti-pornography movements in the United States and Europe. Some of these organizations, including anti-porn groups like the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Exodus Cry, and #TraffickingHub, have coordinated to report and push for platforms to eliminate sexual speech that they disagree with. This is the case for what is happening on a platform like Instagram. 

Even if Pornhub isn’t violating terms and conditions per se, the crisis of banning adult content on mainstream social media websites is a major point of contention between tech and adult content.  

Meta said that Pornhub flouted its ban on “sexual solicitation” for over ten years and also disabled a second account that Pornhub attempted to create after the permanent ban. Instagram has loosely defined concepts of what they refer to as “sexual solicitation.” XBIZ news editor, Gustavo Turner, reported that Meta has “borrowed from archaic anti-sex work laws and imprecisely adapted to the online space by terms of service drafters – has been {very} sharply criticized by the company’s own Oversight Board” several weeks before. Turner reported that the Oversight Board recommended that Meta’s platform needs to immediately “clarify its public-facing sexual solicitation policy and narrow its internal enforcement guidance.” This is also something that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Adult Site Broker is monitoring this issue because it directly impacts adult industry clients.

Read More: 

Adult Industry Groups You Didn’t Know Existed

Sexuality Censorship, Law & Adult Entertainment

What Is Section 230 And Why Should I Care? 

What Global Legal Challenges Face Adult Industry Professionals In 2023?

Adult Site Broker is grateful that you read this blog post. If you have questions, please contact us.

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