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eBay's FOSTA-Inspired Ban On 'Adult Content' Is Erasing LGBTQ History – Techdirt

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There was plenty of attention paid OnlyFans decision recently to ban “sexually explicit” content — a policy the company suspended following an outcry. However, more and more people are noticing that the same kind of thing is happening across the internet due to FOSTA.
The New Yorker has a very interesting article describing how eBay recently banned almost all adult content on its website, and one of the consequences is that important historical LGBTQ content is disappearing. Yet again, this appears to be one of the very much intended consequences of FOSTA. You may recall that one of the major backers of FOSTA were pretty explicit that they saw it as part of their plan to stop all pornography from existing.
And, it’s working:
Recently, eBay has shifted company policy in ways that will make further acquisitions of erotica difficult. In May, the platform banned the sale of “sexually oriented materials”—including magazines, movies, and video games—and closed its “Adults Only” category to new listings in the United States. There are a few explicit exemptions, including Playboy; Penthouse; the gay art zine Butt; the satirical, women-run erotica magazine On Our Backs; and something called Fantastic Men, which appears to be a misspelling of the PG-rated men’s style magazine Fantastic Man. “Nude art listings that do not contain sexually suggestive poses or sexual acts are allowed,” the policy states. Materials falling afoul of such distinctions—which could presumably include anything from reproductions of Michelangelo’s horned-up “The Expulsion from Paradise” to back copies of Black Inches—are, apparently, now beyond the pale.
The ban appears to be related to the House’s Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Senate’s Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act, known together as FOSTASESTA, an effort by victim’s-rights advocates and right-wing activists to crack down on sex work. One feature of the legislative package was to make Web sites liable for hosted content that might “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.” After Donald Trump signed FOSTASESTA into law, in 2018, Craigslist shut down its personals listings, Tumblr banned sexual content, Facebook prohibited the formation of groups organized around sexual encounters, and Instagram ramped up its policing of user content, especially that which includes any hint of human nudity. Also of possible relevance: eBay recently began using the Dutch fintech company Adyen for electronic payment services. Like many payment-processing companies, Adyen refuses to participate in the sale of adult materials. Similar concerns by payout providers were reportedly at the center of the recent decision by OnlyFans, the content subscription platform, to ban sexual content—a move they reversed after considerable outcry led by the sex workers who, in large part, helped the company build a valuation of some one billion dollars. In a written statement to me about the change in policy at eBay, a spokesperson said, “eBay is committed to maintaining a safe, trusted and inclusive marketplace for our community of buyers and sellers and we are continually reevaluating product categories allowed on the platform.”
Congrats to Amy Schumer, Tony Shalhoub, Seth Meyers and Josh Charles for the success in your “advocacy” for FOSTA.
As the New Yorker notes, the impact here is pretty significant. Researchers, archivists, historians, and museums are now all missing out.
Drew Sawyer, a curator at the Brooklyn Museum, said that he has “often turned to eBay for printed matter, magazines, zines, and photographical reproductions” when preparing exhibitions. “Even if—if—they’re archived in libraries, they’re often easier to buy on eBay from logistical and registrarial perspectives. And also cost.” For an upcoming retrospective, Sawyer won a copy of the photographer Jimmy DeSana’s self-published 1979 monograph, “Submission: Selected Photographs.” It’s one of only a hundred or so copies ever made, and a crucial document of a moment when queer sexuality and conceptual art intermingled. “DeSana is an artist whose work would fall under this new policy,” Sawyer said.
And it’s especially important regarding important LGBTQ historical materials, since institutions, like libraries, didn’t much care about that content in the past, meaning they don’t have much of it.
In researching his book “Bound Together: Leather, Sex, Archives, and Contemporary Art,” Andy Campbell, an associate professor of critical studies at the Roski School of Art and Design, used both eBay and the Johnson/Carter Library, in addition to other archives around the country. “Bound Together” argues that queer archives are particularly precarious, as they often lack institutional support structures and their content is at odds with community guidelines. Yet, by making queer culture accessible, they also increase the likelihood of that more positive erasure: assimilation. The same kind of harness that once strained across a hairy chest in Tony DeBlase’s DungeonMaster magazine ends up, some four decades later, on Taylor Swift in a paparazzi shot or Timothée Chalamet on the red carpet. Campbell can still trace those historical lines of sex, style, and commerce without eBay, but it’s more difficult. “When looking at an issue of the leather magazine Drummer, I think about all the coordinated efforts of so many writers, artists, readers, and editors to represent, month after month, their experiences in this community,” he told me, over e-mail. “With DungeonMaster, which was a near-solo labor of love for DeBlase, I think about the radical abilities of one extremely-driven person to educate and titillate his community. That either exists is a miracle.” When it comes to finding them, “It’s a bummer that eBay won’t be that platform any longer.”
There’s a lot more in that New Yorker piece, but the summary is that this important bit of history is being stamped out thanks to a bunch of prudes and “well meaning” supporters of FOSTA who were sold a bill of goods that Section 230 was evil.
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Filed Under: 1st amendment, adult content, archives, culture, fosta, free speech, history, lgbtq, section 230, sex
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I hold the advocates of FOSTA in deep contempt; they created a Säuberung that will make us weaker as a culture.
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Every generation thinks they discovered sex for the first time. It appears that we know why now. Previous generations keep banning sex and force it to be rediscovered.
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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Bans on porn/“adult content” always affect queer content the first⁠—and the worst.
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Bans on porn/“adult content” always affect queer content the first⁠—and the worst.
Not to mention sex workers of all stripes.
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well, people with stripes ARE pretty uncommon…
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people with stripes ARE pretty uncommon
Not necessarily. It depends on the dungeons you frequent.
However, according to the article, on E-Bay you will no longer be able to buy and sell pictures of them.
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The opening statement that "There was plenty of attention paid OnlyFans decision recently" is a lie. But self "journalist", Mike Masnick wants to give himself the credit for coving sleezy unimportant topics and portray it as such.
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Not a lie…it depends on where you look…
On the Wall Street Journal or Washington post? Not so much.
But there was plenty of discussion on a number of online news sites and aggrigators.
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"On the Wall Street Journal or Washington post? Not so much."
Nope. Even a cursory search shows a fair number of stories… I suppose it depends on what you consider to be "plenty" of attention, but Occam’s Razor suggest that our local dunce either made that up, or he gets his news filtered through echo chambers that didn’t want to have the discussion.
https://www.wsj.com/podcasts/the-journal/why-onlyfans-banned-sexual-content/5ea29f8c-ad3 3-4f8d-af88-818d012dbcea
https://www.wsj.com/articles/onlyfans-to-ban-content-featuring-sexually-exp licit-conduct-11629407757
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/onlyfans-and-the-far-reaching-powe r-of-payments-companies/2021/08/26/e8756b86-067a-11ec-b3c4-c462b1edcfc8_story.html
https://www.washi ngtonpost.com/business/onlyfans-website-to-ban-sexually-explicit-content/2021/08/19/d80ec422-012a-11 ec-87e0-7e07bd9ce270_story.html
https://www.wsj.com/articles/onlyfans-suspends-plan-to-ban-sex-video s-11629897375
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/08/25/onlyfans-reversal-sex-porn-ban/
htt ps://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/08/28/onlyfans-porn-ban-sex-work-internet/
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""There was plenty of attention paid OnlyFans decision recently" is a lie."
I’m not sure which news sources you read, but it was a well reported story for weeks in even the mainstream press I read.
Maybe instead of attacking Mike based on a verifiable lie, you should consider why your favoured news sources were hiding this from you, and use that information to choose better news sources?
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They have been trying to ban it all my life. Hasn’t worked yet.
And it is HILARIOUS to me that there is always an exception for Playboy.
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And it is HILARIOUS to me that there is always an exception for Playboy.
It must be the articles.
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It’s the only airbrushed reality we will tolerate. For now.
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funny, considering Playboy banned itself a while back.
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Actually, the reason is that Playboy Enterprises still holds the second copy of the Marilyn Monroe/JFK sex tape.
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Lets ask about the last time this happened, and someone finally got the supreme court to figure out it was against the law.
Every generation isnt correct. its been about 30-40 years since this was last done. Go look up the battles Playboy had. Which wiped out a few other magazines that didnt have the power to fight.
Love Jealousy. All these old women trying to find a reason to Ban Porn. Something they probably use long ago, and most of their ROMANCE novels aspire to intimate. What are the odds, that Anime is NEXT. Anyone think this is backdoor attack on adult anime? Sites kids may goto to see Their fav. shows, UN-EDITED, and maybe find a few NOT for younger folks?
With the ideal of the separation of Church and state, this SHOULD NOT be a problem. Some of the biggest Brothels, were incorporated and paid taxes.
There is a strange background to this that May apply. How many jobs are out there, and how to force women back to being dependent on MEN. Ways to eliminate Numbers from the roles of unemployed, by banning groups you dont like?
to many avenues of thought in this.
Pope Pius IX. Look him up. Poor guy had a problem with statues.
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I strongly believe anime is soon on the chopping block because hollywood and twitter puritans want to sanitize it for their use (see the recent drama over cowboy bebop and the hypocrisy when the same actress wore similar outfits in other shows).
Our only hope on that front is that Japan tells them to piss off but the puritans have allies in the form of funimation/sony, production I.G and kadokawa (look up takeshi natsuno) and of course congress whose always up for another easy moral panic victory.
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Its unlikely that anime is going to be on the chopping block, most on Twitter did not really care about the drama over cowboy bebop, also what does funimation/sony, production I.G and kadokawa have anything to do with this?
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only hope on that front is that Japan tells them to piss off
Probably not the same Japan famous for pixellating the naughty bits even in porn.
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The same Japan that’s famous for creating entirely new fetishes (e.g. tentacle hentai) as a way to bypass said censorship. Something that’s always fascinating about censorship is what people do in order to route around it.
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Anime is already banned in the prison colony pretending to be a country called Australia. And I’ve seen plenty of sites and services ban and restrict anime to ”protect children and stop child porn"
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Just hentai, not all anime.
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I’m as anti-FOSTA as the next guy, but this pretty clearly has nothing at all to do with FOSTA/SESTA. The article mentions it but doesn’t explain how it’s connected, and then immediately gives a real, unrelated reason that actually might make sense.
I assume that the New Yorker article’s author — like most of the US — just doesn’t know anything about FOSTA and that’s why it’s mentioned.
Given that Techdirt has been a great source for FOSTA/SESTA information, I’m not sure why you’re helping the New Yorker spread an obvious falsehood.
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I’m as anti-FOSTA as the next guy, but this pretty clearly has nothing at all to do with FOSTA/SESTA. The article mentions it but doesn’t explain how it’s connected, and then immediately gives a real, unrelated reason that actually might make sense.
I assume you mean this bit:
Also of possible relevance: eBay recently began using the Dutch fintech company Adyen for electronic payment services. Like many payment-processing companies, Adyen refuses to participate in the sale of adult materials.
Are you sure payment processors’ resistance to sales of adult material "has nothing at all to do with FOSTA/SESTA"?
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Are you sure payment processors’ resistance to sales of adult material "has nothing at all to do with FOSTA/SESTA"?
If its objection is specific to US companies or markets, it may well be related. If the Dutch payment processor is refusing sales of adult content worldwide, I’d say another explanation is in order.
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It could still be related. If the processor has a large number of payments routed through the US where they have to comply and they don’t receive any specific benefit other than volume by processing these transactions outside the US; it’s a fair business decision to just apply the US rules worldwide rather than increasing complexity (and therefore costs) to retain a small percentage of revenue.
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It could still be related.
It is possible, but I have not seen any reason to think that is actually the explanation.
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FOSTA and all this fight against "pornography" is what you get when bigoted moralists get their way. But their appetite cannot be satisfied and we have good examples in the Muslim world. Afghanistan was a very progressive country not long ago but it took a few years of religious bigotry to have women that used to wear nice clothes and lipstick to be locked behind full body covers. All in the name of morals and some imaginary deity. I have to emphasize it took a few years, less than the amount we spent in this century, for a major kick back into Middle Ages madness. The absurd abortion thing, FOSTA… They must be fought back fiercely.
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Afghanistan was a very progressive country not long ago but it took a few years of religious bigotry to have women that used to wear nice clothes and lipstick to be locked behind full body covers.
If you’re talking about the Taliban, we kinda-sorta helped them get into power in Afghanistan by fighting along their side when the Soviet Union was occupying their country. It was even a plot point in Rambo III!
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Yeah I know, it’s another absurd. But the Taliban is inside the US as well. Metaphorically speaking.
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Oh, the KKK and assorted NeoNazis.
We’ve got at least one that keeps popping up from time to time.
And a reminder that despite identifying white power nonsense as the most dangerous thing to threaten the US, the FBI keeps enabling its spread, if Hal Turner was of any indication.
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Seems kinda bizarre to single out Muslims, under the circumstances.
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Yes, I agree. But it’s an example ppl can understand. There’s plenty of bigotry and the likes in the Christian front as well. It’s just that the Taliban is one of the most extreme recent examples I could think of that has some reverberation with Americans.
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Also, I do know that the problem isn’t the religion per se but rather a bunch of bigots that follow said religion.
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All 73 million of them.
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Afghanistan was a very progressive country not long ago
The one that was ruled by tribal warlords? I would be interested to read about how progressive it was if you have any resources.
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The one that was ruled by tribal warlords?
No, before that.
I would be interested to read about how progressive it was if you have any resources.
Well, you could start with the "Afghanistan" page on Wikipedia
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Interesting.
Men were obliged to cut their beards, women could not wear a chador, and mosques were placed off limits. The PDPA made a number of reforms on women’s rights, banning forced marriages and giving state recognition of women’s right to vote.
But apparently it didn’t go that well.
At the same time, the PDPA imprisoned, tortured or murdered thousands of members of the traditional elite, the religious establishment, and the intelligentsia. The government launched a campaign of violent repression, killing some 10,000 to 27,000 people and imprisoning 14,000 to 20,000 more, mostly at Pul-e-Charkhi prison. In December 1978 the PDPA leadership signed an agreement with the Soviet Union which would allow military support for the PDPA in Afghanistan if needed. The majority of people in the cities including Kabul either welcomed or were ambivalent to these policies. However, the Marxist–Leninist and secular nature of the government as well as its heavy dependence on the Soviet Union made it unpopular with a majority of the Afghan population. Repressions plunged large parts of the country, especially the rural areas, into open revolt against the new Marxist–Leninist government.
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shalhoub why. Knowing this makes me regret buying the Monk box set, I could’ve just gone the sailor way.
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I’ve been arguing the slippery slope for a few years now, but it seems censorship, anti-sex, and moral busybodies are all the rage with both sides of the political divide these days. Cognitive dissonance is difficult to get over, even those that I, previously believed, were firmly against restricting freedom of expression, were apparently fine with it when it happened to ”the other side”. And not just fine, but cheerleading it, literally asking the governments and technology companies to censor and filter for wrong-think. But every time I brought up that ”hey, perhaps it sets a nasty precedent to support banning people for words, however heinous those words are", I have been downvoted or ridiculed on sites like this. So lately I’ve begun seeing the schadenfreude in my wasted effort, now I say you can all keep the chains you are building for yourselves, keep adding to them, I am sure it will work out just fine in the end.
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Someone forward links to this to the loud mouthed "stars" who claim they know best.
I want to see their heads explode trying to pretend they only meant to stop bad things and have managed to make erasing the gays great again.
Something something humans & labels, stuffing so many things in that they become pointless or dangerous. Pity adults seem to lack the ability/desire to wrestle with difficult concepts & just throw their hands up making the decision that is going to hurt so many more than it allegedly is going to help.
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I know you from around, so I know you must be aware how happy both progressives and conservatives were when PornHub and OnlyFans announced their takedowns. If you payed attention to the loudest chatter coming from both sides, at least.
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