Why Elon Musk Should Protect Porn Stars on Twitter

Elon Musk’s will-he-or-won’t-he Twitter purchase may have descended into the Wall Street version of reality television, and it was recently eclipsed by the news that he’d reportedly paid a flight attendant $250,000 in hush money after she’d accused him of sexual misconduct, but his concerns about free speech on social media have sparked a valuable…

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Elon Musk’s will-he-or-won’t-he Twitter purchase may have descended into the Wall Street version of reality television, and it was recently eclipsed by the news that he’d reportedly paid a flight attendant $250,000 in hush money after she’d accused him of sexual misconduct, but his concerns about free speech on social media have sparked a valuable debate. Critics argue he’s setting the stage for a troll free-for-all, while others are celebrating Musk for potentially ushering in a new golden age of free speech. Throughout the debate, we’ve heard everyone from Taylor Lorenz to Ben Shapiro, but we’ve yet to hear from one of the most silenced groups on social media: porn stars.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media platforms censor us every day. Instagram seems to boot porn actors on a whim. Every girl in porn valley knows someone who lost their TikTok for posting a bikini pic, although every co-ed in Arizona can seemingly flash her belly button and shake her ass as much as she wants. Since I only create porn, I can only speak to pornographers’ experiences. I personally know that when people type in my name on Twitter, I don’t appear. You can argue all day if this is “shadow banning,” but the term doesn’t matter. The fact is: Silicon Valley censors adult performers, full stop.

Censorship hurts our ability to feed ourselves. When a pornographer loses a social media account, they lose the ability to promote themselves. If they cannot advertise, they can’t sell content. If they can’t sell content, they can’t make money. If they can’t make money, they can’t pay their mortgages, utility bills, etc. Sure, nobody wants to hear about our struggle—they just want to wank to our content—but our problems matter. And right now, we have a lot of problems. OnlyFans, many performers’ primary source of income, could ban us at any second.

Evangelicals, liberals, and everyone else on earth are trying to take down MindGeek and other porn conglomerates that pay performers for our work. Worst of all, Twitter is the last social media platform to let us post adult footage as an ad. Other tech giants regulate us to safe-for-work ads even if our accounts are set to 18+—that is, if they even let us post at all. Once upon a time, adult movies were advertised in adult video stores, but today nobody buys DVDs. Social media is all we’ve got—especially if you are talking about the individual performer and not a porn giant.

Social media is all we’ve got—especially if you are talking about the individual performer and not a porn giant.

If Musk, or whoever the hell ends up owning Twitter, wants to protect free speech, they need to enshrine the speech of the porn club nobody wants to hear from, even if they disagree with our profession. The fact is, porn valley screamed about free speech way before libertarian Silicon Valley. In between running for president and converting to evangelism, Hustler founder Larry Flynt filed and defended numerous lawsuits in the ’70s and ’80s. These courtroom dramas concluded with the protection of our right to publish adult content even if it offended local preachers. Flynt’s legal activism also ended up with the Supreme Court protecting the speech of comedians and even right-wingers he loathed. Flynt liked it that way; he believed free speech should protect everyone, even those he hated.

Musk wants to be Mr. Free Speech—and we could use a free-speech hero in the age of censorship. Here are three steps Musk and co. should take on Twitter to protect pornographers’ speech and, in the process, the speech of all Twitter users:

AGE VERIFICATION

Social media sites claim they must ban adult content to protect children from seeing our footage. Well, adult performers have no desire for underage people to see our work. It’s called adult entertainment for a reason! If Twitter forced all users to verify their ages by uploading identification documents, their algorithms could block minors from watching our work. Age verification would rid social media of its excuse for censoring us. We could post images of legal, consenting adults having fun together, and users could search our names. Everyone could jack off and/or promote porn in peace.

DRAW THE LINE AT LEGALITY

Right now, Mastercard and other payment processors censor porn more than the government. Mastercard sets guidelines for what porn they will accept payments for, and they ban us from selling specific videos even if it depicts legal content (for instance, you can’t buy a video of an entire fist going up my ass with your Mastercard). Since Twitter doesn’t sell videos, the platform should draw the line at legality and allow us to post any pornography enshrined by the First Amendment. With the legality rule, Twitter could boot someone for advertising illegal drug sales, but they could enable pornographers to publish legal adult content they can’t post on paid sites. It would make Twitter America’s sanctuary for free speech, and it would set an example that Twitter protects all users’ speech, including those you might disagree with.

END DEPLATFORMING

Disinformation activists argue that deplatforming works because it pushes fringe bad actors out of public life; however, we all know that social media giants have relied on their content rules to deplatform legal pornographers. The entire idea of deplatforming goes against the spirit of free speech: Free speech protects the speech of everyone, including those you despise. And yes, I know the anti-disinformation crowd will write me and say, “Twitter is a private corporation! They can do whatever they want! The First Amendment just protects you from getting censored by the feds!” But we all know that free speech is also an old-school American value, supporting the free expression of ideas. Also, when you talk about how corporations have the right to ban people, you sound like someone who supports the Supreme Court’s Citizens United verdict, which ruled corporations have rights like people and can fund as many dark money political campaigns as they want. Anyway, Musk and company should only boot people from the platform if they commit a crime on Twitter.

So far, Musk has pushed for an end to deplatforming and discussed identity verification. He’s yet to mention porn, but if he’s serious about free speech, he needs to protect the controversial, stigmatized community of pornographers that manufactures all the content people use for masturbation. After all, pornographers are the basis of the First Amendment Musk loves so much. So, it’s time someone protects our free speech for once!

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