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Laws hold the porn industry accountable for dangerous content — and it’s thriving nonetheless

In In October, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to testify about his company’s planned cryptocurrency, Libra. Early on in the proceedings, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) objected to proposals that would rein in the tech giant, comparing them to “red flag laws” that aimed to reduce fear around early automobiles through aggressive measures (including the requirement that a pedestrian waving a red flag of warning precede any car on the road).

To McHenry, and to most of Zuckerberg’s peers in Silicon Valley, the idea of slowing technological innovation through regulation is patently ludicrous. In an industry built on an…


A new adult VR experience is likely to make women sick, but not because of its content

A double exposure photograph of a woman wearing VR Glasses in two different poses.
A double exposure photograph of a woman wearing VR Glasses in two different poses.

“The guy isn’t getting naked quick enough.” These were the words of a woman I’d known for just a few minutes, a fellow member of the media who, like me, had travelled to a co-working space in New York’s Financial District to get a glimpse of a whole new take on porn.

Erika Lust, an award-winning pornographer known for her cinematic, female-friendly approach to smut, had finally made the leap into immersive, 360-degree virtual reality porn, and we were some of the first people to get a look at her debut effort.

As I strapped on a VR headset, I…

Adult entertainment workers count on social media to connect with fans, but the platform’s opaque rules leave them vulnerable to impersonators

A few weeks ago, a porn performer friend of mine tweeted out a seemingly simple request. Someone had created a Twitter account impersonating her, one that not merely used her name and image, but copied her bio verbatim, creating a page that could easily be mistaken for the real thing at first glance. She wanted her friends and followers to report it.

Eager to assist her, I made my way to the offending account’s page, clicked the button to start the reporting process, and, as I got to the final page, noticed something odd. When prompted by the system to…

Increasingly, porn is being pushed back into the shadows

Since its founding in 2007, Tumblr was generally considered one of the most porn-friendly social media platforms. It was a place where users could form communities around their shared love of hardcore GIFs and soft-core photos, where porn performers could set up their own mini-websites without fear of being kicked off the service for posting obscene content.

Earlier this month, all that came to an end. …

New platforms are providing creators with a chance to bypass pirate sites and platform rules, and connect directly with users

A common criticism of mainstream porn is that it’s unrealistic. Detractors argue that everything from the clichéd storylines to the fake orgasms combine to create depictions of sex which are void of intimacy at best, and downright harmful at worst.

It’s true that porn has its problems. Fetishization and violence (although research shows this is decreasing) are still regular fixtures on “tube” sites — the free, largely unregulated sites like Pornhub and Xtube. Those sites also frequently feature pirated content. But the industry is largely changing for the better as platforms, creators, and studios merge with the social media movement.


Q&As and livestreams about addiction are now part of the package for Pornhub and Stripchat

As internet pornography has become more widespread, so too has hand-wringing about its potential harms. In 2016, a Time cover story examined pornography as “a threat to virility.” And many people take the very idea of porn addiction as a given — even as academic and medical communities remain largely undecided about how to diagnose or treat such an addiction or whether excessive consumption of pornography can be considered an “addiction” at all.

For porn consumers — particularly young ones who are still learning about healthy sexual habits — the current state of the conversation around porn addiction can feel…

The policy aimed to protect children, but critics say the flawed project presented serious privacy risks

When today’s politicians were at school, they may well have discovered pornography through a ragged magazine passed around the back of the class, or an illicit VHS tape at their friend’s house. Today, the scale, diversity, and immediacy of the porn available online makes those kind of formative encounters seem quaint. It’s a $97 billion global industry that accounts for about a third of all data transferred online; the website Pornhub served 5.5 billion hours of video during 2018.

Given the ubiquity of both the internet and porn, it is perhaps not surprising that our children are more exposed to…


Startups are using explicit footage to improve our understanding of our bodies

For the past 15 years, Swedish filmmaker Erika Lust has devoted herself to the world of indie adult cinema, using her talents to create stunningly beautiful films that document a variety of intimate relationships and sexual experiences. Through her work, Lust has seen firsthand how ill-equipped many of us are to talk about sex, or even explore our own sexualities. And over the years she’s worked to help move the conversation forward.

In 2017, Lust and her husband launched The Porn Conversation, a site geared towards helping parents navigate conversations about adult entertainment with their kids. Now she’s using her…

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