Where else can you go for secure online transactions?
Porn invented secure online financial transactions, a fact PayPal and Stripe prefer to overlook as they ban accounts for porn. Sure, they claim they’re watching out for child porn and violence, but in practice they forbid consensual adults enjoying their bodies. They consider porn a “high-risk” product, but check it out.
Tumblr was a safe zone for adults to share intimate artwork and hold deeply personal discussions about sexual topics. Communities could form to support each other and talk about socially inappropriate things like sex, even though conservatives can post and share Christmas photos of them and their families brandishing assault weapons. Violence is acceptable; lovemaking is shameful. This is what we’ve been raised with—don’t address your feelings, punch whoever’s making you feel bad.
Yahoo, unable to compete with… anybody… purchased Tumblr in 2013 for $1.1 billion. Verizon decided to increase its profitability by acquiring AOL ($4.4 billion, 2015) and Yahoo ($4.5 billion, 2017), forming their media group Oath, about as christofascist a name as one could desire. They imposed harsh censorship upon Tumblr, devastating its community—and beggaring their investment. Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio, added on in 2013, stated “there are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.” He seems to struggle with what words mean, as his policy evacuated Tumblr’s user base.
In 2019 Verizon/Oath sold Tumblr to Automattic, owners of WordPress, for $3 million dollars. Censorship directly caused a 99.8% loss on their investment, yet porn’s the high-risk business model. Automattic’s 38-year-old CEO, Matt Mullenweg, vows to uphold the ban while claiming Tumblr’s “just fun” and “we’re not going to change any of that.” Well, it was fun before the change, Matt.
As it stands, most online businesses (banking, web hosting, social media, etc.) have restrictions on graphic depictions of sexual activity. Of course everyone bans child porn and glorification of violence, duh. But images of adults having sex? Some places, like Gumroad, permit illustrations and artwork but not photography of actual people fucking; adult literature seems to be fair game. But really, they’re only beholden to the banks and Visa and Mastercard. Businesses like PayPal and Stripe absolutely forbid anything sexual, any content marked “mature” or “adult,” and that covers photos, illustrations, and literature. Why? Because christofascists will complain in large, financially girthed groups, and the only thing more venerated than firearms is money (which buys you firearms, to protect your money, etc.).
What does this look like elsewhere? Well, a lot of adult content artists and writers have tried to ply their goods on Patreon, and in many cases Patreon doesn’t seem to deem this worthy of their legislature. In 2017 they imposed a broadly interpreted ban on pornography altogether, prompting an open letter from their adult content community, reminding Patreon that they are a strong and substantial foundation for that service. Patreon relented and permitted “works depicting real people in the nude in sexual contexts,” while steadfastly banning pornographic material (consenting adults fucking) and sexual services, to kowtow to their overlords at Mastercard. In their own words: “While we allow nudity and for creators to push the boundaries of art, we also have guidelines against funding pornography on patreon. In our community guidelines: We define pornographic material as real people engaging in sexual acts such as masturbation or sexual intercourse on camera.”
Patreon frowns on sex, because Visa and Mastercard told them to, and yet white supremacy is approved content. In 2017, leftist independent news organization It’s Going Down posted a picture on Twitter of a Proud Boys leader at a public protest. They only shared his name and the name of the event, like any legitimate news organization would. Yet the Proud Boys berated CEO Jack Conte, claiming they’d doxxed the (not-so-)Proud Boys leader, which they hadn’t. And so, right after Conte released a statement (on Dave Rubin’s podcast, an alt-right commentator so intellectually impaired that left-wing pundits feel shame in going after him and consider him off-limits) praising his defense of free speech, Patreon suspended It’s Going Down’s account for completely legal activity that occurred on Twitter, not Patreon.
In May 2021 I wrote to Patreon to find out their official position on acceding to the alt-right’s illegal and inappropriate demands. The representative who wrote back suggested that an investigation was underway. I wrote back in July 2022 to find out the progress of this investigation, and another representative stated, in stronger terms, that their Trust and Security department does not share any information about ongoing or concluded investigations. So there is no way to conclusively disprove they’re beholden to fascists.
So, yes, the chips are stacked against you if you want to create adult content. Most places ban imagery; some places ban literature. I’m very discouraged by the adversarial nature of sharing and moving online content. Some of my friends have suggested I pour my creative efforts into other genres, which… doesn’t sound like a solution. I like Size Fantasy material, I like writing about it and creating images about it. But there comes a point where you have to question how long you want to keep banging your head on this particular wall, or whether it’s worth trying to sell it. Offer it for free, maybe people will tip you (oh, wait, Ko-Fi bans all forms of adult content, too).
Depending on the degree to which you show people having sex, either you impose a “mature” lockdown on your content so people can’t find you, or you can’t post it at all. That happened to me when Stripe finally took a look at my WordPress blog and canceled my account. Stripe works with WordPress to handle financial transactions, like subscriptions, so I lost all 12 of my subscribers that I’d slowly accrued over a year, after fleeing Patreon due to their friendliness with the alt-right. What else can you do?
And how long before WordPress looks at what I write? They claim they permit adult literature, as long as the blog is marked “mature,” but, you know.
In a sternly worded email to me, announcing the shutdown of my account, Stripe recommended PaymentCloud merchant services, “which works with businesses with a higher level of risk than we’re able to support.” Right, because censorship (see above) is so profitable. Another alternative to PayPal is France-based Liberapay; however, they’re vague about what they don’t permit, so be careful.
Readers: Do you know of any alternatives to PayPal and Stripe, something friendlier to adult content?