With Elon Musk finalizing a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion last month, many in the world of porn and sex work are wondering how the deal might affect their industries, the operations of which are increasingly dependent on the rules and regulations of tech platforms and social media.
Unlike other similarly globally dominant platforms such as TikTok, or Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, Twitter has become a rarity by being a huge mainstream platform that allows porn content to be hosted and distributed on it, as long as it is flagged as ‘sensitive’ material. Sexually explicit live video is not allowed on Twitter, nor is sexually explicit material in profile images.
Following the announcement of the Tesla and SpaceX engineer and mogul buying Twitter, a flurry of tweets pleading with him not to ban porn on the platform came forth. Sex workers who promote their work and content on Twitter have talked hopefully about Musk not impinging on their ability to post explicit material on the platform that currently promotes the motto: “Being fast, free and fun”.
When takeovers as significant as this take place it’s natural to expect big changes to follow. But with Musk making the promotion of free speech —or his somewhat ‘anti-woke’ version of it— the cornerstone of his Twitter purchase, early signs point to him being more porn-friendly than not, when it comes to allowing explicit content to remain on the platform.
Although Twitter’s success wasn’t primarily built on explicit content, as it was for OnlyFans, Musk will be aware that by allowing porn Twitter remains a primary method of promotion for many porn creators: a group with considerable commercial clout. The development of monetized Twitter functions such as Super Follows, which seems tailor-made as a revenue stream for porn content creators and is expected to have an ‘adult content’ section, will only increase this earning potential.
Musk hasn’t made any definitive comments about explicit content on Twitter, but has said that he is “against censorship that goes far beyond the law”. The purchase raises many concerns about how social media may operate in the future – not least that the networks may become the playthings of petty billionaire trolls who call people they dislike “pedo guy”, as Musk did – but some sex workers are optimistic that he won’t pull the rug from their Twitter promotion efforts.
The mood among sex workers Vice recently spoke to about the Musk issue was one of cautious optimism. Sofia Rose, an adult content creator who promotes her work on Twitter, told Vice: “I think we won’t see any negative changes to adult or nsfw content as he tends to be an open minded forward thinker.”
“It seems like Elon Musk is a pretty open-minded person and doesn’t support censorship, so I don’t think sex workers should be worried about him and his potential actions,” porn performer Valentina Bellucci, who has over 60,000 followers on Twitter, added.
But how pro-sex and porn is Elon Musk, generally? He’s had kids, so we know he’s had sex, which is a positive start. His recent comments about sex robots and ‘catgirls’ might hint at his tastes and interests, albeit perhaps from a purely business perspective.
In April 2022 Musk said, “It’s probably inevitable”, when asked if robots could become romantic or sex partners, perhaps belying the fact that many people around the world are happy sex robot owners/partners already.
He added, surely with a large degree of jest: “I mean, I did promise the internet that I’d make catgirls. We could make a robot catgirl.”
A catgirl is a fictional humanoid creature with cat ears, tails and whiskers, and is something Musk has talked about before. Tesla is already developing a humanoid robot, the Optimus, that could one day form the basis of a sophisticated sex robot.
You reckon that if Musk adds some sexy feline ears and a tail to one of those Optimus things, he’s not going to want to get explicit shots of it in action on Twitter?
Stuff like that is the whole point of being the boss, isn’t it? It remains to be seen whether he can keep a handle on moderation challenges, but don’t be surprised it Twitter becomes far racier under the ownership of Musk.