Section 230 Potentially Being Overturned and Social Media ToS Updates

Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are all getting VERY specific with their new Terms that target the adult industry

Adult performers are no strangers to being targeted by the terms and conditions on practically every social media platform, but as we approach the new year and stress over the possibility of section 230 being overturned arises we can see that the legal teams at all sites – especially social media based platforms – are starting to panic. Before we get too deep into the new terms on the sites, let’s discuss section 230 a little bit and why it’s something you should be familiar with if you work online.

Section 230, why is it important to sex workers?

Section 230 is a law in place to help protect websites from being held accountable for what users post on their platforms. It allows websites to monitor activity on their websites in “good faith” and it is the opinion of many companies that allowing more online freedom is part of what makes the internet so popular and enticing. No matter what political side you are on, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have spoken out against section 230, with even Nancy Pelosi saying “it is a gift that could be taken away.” Section 230 has faced backlash from both political parties recently due to the law giving websites the ability to allow or censor hate speech on their own terms which allows major social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more to have a major ability to sway people politically and to “pick sides.” Unfortunately, section 230 has major impacts outside of only politics.

Section 230 has laid the groundwork for many major websites and social media platforms to allow user uploaded and user generated content while providing these websites with a safety cushion of not being legally responsible for what individuals post on their platforms. This effects porn sites (which is why you will see many websites are now tightening up their rules to help maintain legal compliance) and social media. Every site that hosts sex workers content, even their safe for work content, can be held legally responsible for what is posted to their platform and the legal consequences of who comes across that content.

What does Section 230 have to do with the new guidelines on social media?

If we dig specifically into the sex work and general sexual targeted updates to the Terms and Conditions on Instagram, we will find that this has been added to prohibited content: “content that is implicitly or indirectly offering or asking for sexual solicitation.” That is a very broad rule, and you may say to yourself well if I don’t post links and don’t talk about my adult websites I should be fine, right? Wrong. The problem with that new guideline is that we don’t know exactly what they mean by “indirectly.” Signing up for a platform using your stage name could simply be enough to qualify as “indirect solicitation.” If section 230 is overturned and if signing up with your adult stage name is enough to count as “indirect solicitation” then Instagram, Facebook, etc could be held liable for that soliciting.

Are sex workers getting the boot from social media?

Let’s be real, they will never be able to stop sex work (as much as they want to) so if section 230 is overturned and all of these sites actually maintain their stringent terms, will sex workers be cast off the internet forever? No. Sex workers always find a way to survive, and while it will certainly be much harder to promote, the adult industry is a community that is very good at assessing, interpreting, adjusting, and overcoming any adversities and obstacles they come into contact with. This isn’t to brush it off and say what’s happening isn’t a big deal, because it definitely is a huge deal, but don’t start having a “the world is crumbling around me” level freak out just yet. First things first, we have to wait and see what happens with section 230. Although both political parties have expressed their disinterest in it, the tech companies would fight against any decision they tried to make regarding it. Additionally, maybe all of these changes have nothing to do with section 230 and the social media sites are just on another witch hunt to get sexy creators off of their platform. Whatever happens, we will have our eye on it and try our best to keep you up to date!