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Porn Stars Tell Us How They Get Around Social Media Nudity Rules

Porn age restrictions are meant to be on their way to the UK, but they'll have to contend with social media platforms that let X-rated network slip through filters anyway.

by Amber Roberts
17 July 2016, 5:00am

Illustration by Joel Benjamin

It only takes about one scroll down Meana Wolf's Twitter account to come across an autoplay video featuring a massive penis. Wolf's a fetish porn star, so that's not the biggest surprise. What does seem strange is that a full five years since people first started stumbling across X-rated content on social media sites not designed primarily for porn, it's been barely tempered. From Twitter to Snapchat, Whatsapp, Tumblr, Instagram – and even LinkedIn – there's porn thrusting about everywhere on non-age-restricted platforms.

Wolf says that while Twitter is useful for advertising, her use of it is "mostly about networking. Twitter is often the first point of contact between performers and producers, and I've met lots of people in my industry through following and private messaging them," she says, speaking from Canada. The platform felt like the best place to make a start for amateur porn actress, Curious Clover.

"PlumperPass actually reached out to me on Twitter and soon enough I ended up going down to Miami a couple years ago for my first scene. I'm actually going back in August and I'm talking to other companies through Twitter now too, so it's definitely a good way to get your name out there." In short, it's a marketing tool, though not much of a direct money-maker.

While the site itself doesn't pay the stars, it acts as a springboard for consumers to view and pay for content on other sites. Both Meana Wolf and Curious Clover will tweet a gif or photo teaser as soon as they release a new clip, plus a link. Like an online publication's social media editor, they then crunch the numbers.

"I've definitely seen a considerable increase since I've started scheduling my posts with this website called that tracks how many clicks I get for my links," Clover says. "It's brought a lot more traffic." It's also common for camgirls to tweet if they have camshow running, inviting followers to click away for instant gratification. Clover says that in a normal camshow, she'll be lucky to get $20 to $50, but if she tweets about the show, she gets much higher returns, at more than $100 a show.

In recent years, Clover says that Twitter has "really become the main platform for cam girls to be able to post R-rated and explicit photos without getting in trouble for it". In comparison to platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr, Twitter has a reputation for being lenient about pornographic content. While their Terms of Service don't allow pornographic media in a profile or header image, Twitter allows some forms of graphic content in tweets marked as "sensitive media".

Clover tells me that this setting, "normally catches most of my posts but still not all of them". Even if a tweet is flagged up as sensitive material, all a user has to do is click 'view' and they're through. Clover tells me that in this way, "the censorship they have on Twitter isn't really censorship", and that she actually wishes there was a more effective form of censorship because, "Twitter's getting more popular with younger kids now. When I think about my sister, she's only 12..."

Twitter didn't respond to my requests for comment, but a quick look at their history shows that censorship is not their forte. Back in 2009 they faced criticism for running ads next to porn profiles, and then were hit by a hacker who spread a porn Trojan on user's computers. In fact, a leaked 2015 memo from CEO Dick Costolo declared their incompetence in censoring trolls and the like. "We've sucked at it for years", he wrote.

This may be because apart from some automated censoring systems, Twitter relies on cloud-sourcing to flag up the majority of the sensitive material. The onus is on the public to flag up graphic content that bothers them. As Twitter grows at such an exponential rate, enforcing rules in a uniform manner seems less feasible. Like, who's that bothered about the odd flash of arse and tits? A bit like with legal drugs, a porn account can just change its formula and can slip through the net.

My fans like to see what goes on behind the scenes. They want to feel like you're the girl next door, and not just one they're buying porn from; they can get that anywhere for free — porn actress Curious Clover

You can see something similar in the works on Snapchat, where hundreds of porn stars and even companies such as Redtube and Brazzers boast accounts. Clover's one of many stars charging for their Snapchat, be it a monthly, yearly or a lifetime fee. Although Snapchat's Terms of Service specifically prohibit the selling of Snaps without their written permission, this doesn't seem to have much force.

"I used to charge $10 a month or if you wanted to buy if for a year it was $50 – even if people find you on there without paying for it, you can block them." Many stars also have wish lists and some stars only allow you on their Snapchat if you buy something from their wishlist. These wishlists can contain anything from underwear to a car. Clover tells me, "probably the biggest donation I ever got was I had a guy send me a $5,000 cheque so I could buy a new car." Handy.

However, many stars, including Clover, decide to keep their Snapchats free to access. "It's a good marketing tool," she says. "I try to keep a balance of porn industry stuff and everyday life because my fans like to see what goes on behind the scenes too. They wanna feel like you're the girl next door and not just one they're buying porn from, they can get that anywhere for free."

This seems to be key to making money in the sex industry; Wolf agrees. "The big porn companies want to see that a performer is connecting with fans, which is huge in this day and age. Why? Because guys don't want to just jerk off to you, they want to like all your pics on Instagram and get to know you through your tweets and snapchats." Wolf argues that many of her viewers are looking to create an emotional context for their sexual desire, they are attracted to all of her quirks when she's not performing too. Wolf continues that ultimately, "the more they like a star, the more of her media and her videos they will want to consume and this is extremely advantageous to the big porn companies selling subscriptions. Ultimately it's a win-win for everyone."

Porn stars are innovative, and as social media develops, the sex industry are finding more and more ways to use it to their advantage. With porn sites already representing 52 percent of all internet views in the UK, it clear that the sex industry will find ways to seep through all barriers, even with age-restricted online porn on the way. You just can't keep a good dick down.

@amberroberts6 / Joel Benjamin

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