Recap: Part Two discussed the following issues:
1. The consequences of financial institutions putting pressure on adult pornographic websites
2. The increase in demand for non-consensual and dehumanising content
3. The need to understand the environment and the evolution of users
Part Three will discuss the problems faced by content creators.
We have already discussed the increased demand for non-consensual and dehumanising material within society. Also, when traditional pornographic sites/platforms become the focus of financial institutions, governments, law enforcement, non-governmental organisations, and academia, an opportunity arises for new, less regulated platforms to fill the void.
What about the content creators? What effect do these factors have on them?
Demand for non-consensual and dehumanising material
COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on the number of people who have become involved with ‘subscription-based’ social media sites. For example, in December 2019, OnlyFans had 100,00 creators, and by December 2020, there were one million worldwide. The increase in creators has almost caused a ‘saturated’ market.
For most creators, their primary source of income will be from the creation of sexualised material. Therefore, there is pressure to grow and retain a large fanbase whilst competing with the significant increase in competing creators.
This ‘saturation’ in the market has meant that creators who have accounts on sites with the intention of posting modelling or semi-nude images have found that initially, they could earn some income. However, when there are indications that their popularity is diminishing, they are at risk of engaging in exploitative behaviours. This escalation in harmful behaviours is even though, they are ordinarily unwilling to undertake such activities to maintain an income and/or remain ‘popular’ or relevant.
The more financial constraints the content creator has, the more difficult it will be to remove themselves from a harmful environment. Many creators, from marginalised backgrounds, like that of the transgender community, find themselves compelled to accept requests as a means of survival. There are numerous posts on social media platforms where individuals offer to sell ‘custom’ videos either due to an urgent need for a source of income or because the environment dictates the premise on how to retain a ‘fanbase’.
‘Customs’ are a way that users can request ‘fantasy’ and ‘fetish’ videos from the creators. As the demand for dehumanising content increases, the prices a content creator can charge will be high until the supply starts to match or outweigh the demand; this will cause the creators to escalate the severity of their material to retain an income.
The demand for more severe fetishes leads to the creation of sites like that of ‘iwantclips’, which allows creators to offer choking, blackmail & coercion fantasies, to name just a few. Another site, ‘scatshop’, offers custom scat, urination, menstrual and vomiting videos.
When a creator makes the difficult decision to create custom content or adapt their ‘business model’ out of necessity to survive in the environment, can this still be considered consensual?
How do we remove the demand for non-consensual and dehumanising material? This is a complex issue; however, the fact that young people use pornography to educate themselves on sexual behaviours suggests an insufficiency with the sex education curriculum within the education system. It might not be a ‘quick fix’, but if we can teach children ‘normal’ sexual behaviours, it would help mitigate sexual objectification and violent attitudes towards genders and thus reduce the demand.
The Threat from Financial Institutions, Governments et al
When OnlyFans faced sanctions from financial institutions i.e. the withdrawal of credit card payment services, the site owners decided to ban ‘sexually explicit’ content. Less than a week later, the site owners announced that they had reversed their decision. Despite the entire situation lasting only one week, the impact on content creators was huge. Content creators reacted by looking for alternative sites, Fansly, who reported that they had received up to 4000 applications an hour once the announcement was made. Subscribers also left the site and searched for alternatives to access their sexually explicit content.
With the threat of having their income reduced or removed, content creators can be forced onto sites that aren’t regulated and allow dehumanising, illegal content and threatening messages to be sent.
Sites that are self-regulated, compliant, and report illegal content are, at times, perceived as a risk; however, their compliance leads to financial institutions, governments, law enforcement, non-governmental organisations, and academia focusing their attention on the platform(s). The use of reporting statistics to determine what sites are the greatest risk is only relevant when there is oversight across the entire landscape.