Multiple sex workers are reporting on social media that Linktree has banned them from the platform overnight.
Linktree is a service that allows users to organize links to all of their social media accounts and platforms in one place. There are a lot of sites that offer the same service, but Linktree is one of the most popular.
Linktree said that while many sex workers use its service without issue by following its community standards guidelines, it will not allow links that facilitate real life sexual services, because full service sex work is illegal.
“Per our company's policies, the Linktree accounts banned stemmed from sharing a URL which violated Community Standards by sharing advertisements for the sale of real-life sexual services,” Marlene Bonnelly, Head of Trust & Safety at Linktree, told Motherboard.
It’s especially popular with sex workers because most people making erotic content online are using multiple platforms—in large part because platforms so often shut down service to them unexpectedly, as AVN Stars did last month (and as OnlyFans threatened to, earlier in 2021), or shutter altogether, as so many sites did following the passage of FOSTA/SESTA in 2019. Diversifying one’s internet presence is a way to make sure income doesn’t completely stop when one platform goes under. Another reason so many people use Linktree is that platforms including Instagram don’t allow links out to adult sites, like OnlyFans, and will ban users for doing so—but Linktree links are allowed.
Many people are waking up this morning to messages on their Linktree pages that their accounts were banned “for inappropriate use.” I counted at least a dozen people reporting this on Twitter, all of them sex workers. Some say that Linktree billed them for the service (which costs $9 a month if you’re using the “pro” subscription version) and then canceled their account without refund.
Lauren, a model and escort in New York, told me that she was locked out of her Linktree account sometime between last night and this morning, as her account was active yesterday. There was nothing explicit on her Linktree, she said; it included a link to her website, her booking form, and links out to other sex working platforms like Tryst and Slixa but also “safe for work” social media accounts including Instagram, Twitter, and Cash App.
“It just said that my account was blocked due to inappropriate content and that it was removed,” Lauren said. “There was no email from them warning me or telling me what specifically was inappropriate so that I would maybe have the chance to remove it. No nothing. Just here one day gone the next.”
Turing a blind eye to sexual content for a period of time as the platform grows, and then booting the sex workers responsible for the site’s success, has become the modus operandi of many creator-led platforms. As so many platforms and services shut sex workers out, more workers are creating their own websites, including link sites that they own the URLs for and host themselves, instead of relying on third-party platforms that can kick them off at any moment.
Updated 1/14 4:03 p.m. with comment from Linktree.