Artificial truth

The more you see, the less you believe.

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Adult content on a balkanized web
Sun 09 December 2018 — download

Today's web is mostly divided between tech giants: everybody uses google/baidu to search for webpages, twitter to yell at one other, instagram/pintest/snapchat/… to share pictures, facebook/vk to showcast their life, youtube/twitch for videos, amazon/taobao/aliexpress/ebay to buy stuff, linkedin to find a job, youporn/pornhub to watch porn, and tumblr to, … well not porn anymore.

Most of the companies behind those websites are American; meaning that they either:

  1. Ban sex, nudity and everything remotely related, preferably in a sexist way (female nipples are forbidden, male ones are allowed, and of course, women are allowed to show their bodies only if it's maternity-related.)
  2. Broadcast a gigantic amount of bland mainstream porn.

Tumblr's new policy made me realise that there are not that many spaces between those two extremes, and this is worrying, because let's be honest, kids will find porn on the internet, and I'd rather they find some on Tumblr than on Pornhub.

I mean, since tumblr is "a microblogging and social networking website," so they might find things here like: artsy production, contextualised acts, communication with other human beings, intimacy, diversity of body shape/taste/preferences/… maybe even LGBTQ+ content, depiction of consent (have you ever found that on youporn?), and even some educational material; instead of lowest common-denominator content produced by large productions and mechanically performed by generic-looking actors.

This is important because, as thoroughly explained in this (great) NY Times article, this has heavy behavioural influence, and we already have way too many sexism-related issues to deal with without having to add even more. In a (comprehensive) 2016 survey of ~1000 teenagers in the UK, half of them have seen pornography, and in this group more than half of the boys thought that pornography was "realistic." Heck, there are even states in the US that do not mandate sexual education, so pornography is the de facto replacement. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell about pregnancy prevention, discussions of anatomy, birth control, disease prevention, healthy relationships, …

You might argue that maybe it's not the role of the internet to teach people about those topics. But even if you do, people will still go on the internet, and will look for sexual-themed content.

This is why I'm convinced that it's crucial to have spaces for those kinds of discussions and depictions, and while some people are working on it (also, there's still reddit), there are still a lot of empty spaces to fill!