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ErosBlog posts containing ""pornocalypse comes for us all""

May 1st, 2013 -- by Bacchus

The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All

Ask not for whom the pornocalypse tolls. It tolls for thee.

Recently I’ve been seeing lots of tweets and headlines suggesting that Amazon is going through another round of cracking down on porn ebooks, generally burying them deeper and making them harder to find (or, as their people would no doubt put it, making it harder for porn to pop up accidentally in general searches.) I haven’t paid a lot of attention, because I’m old and I’m weary and I’ve seen this pattern repeated over and over again throughout the internet age. Somebody builds a platform or service or community or whatever, it is even better with porn, lots of people use it for porn, it grows awesomely, eventually the suits get uncomfortable with all the porn that is at the foundation of their business, and so they try to marginalize it or (usually later in the process) drive it out entirely (though this often fails).

Smart people know that the internet (hell, any new technology disruptive enough to be interesting) is for porn. Remember why home VCRs exploded in popularity? How many of you Usenet veterans were motivated to get a Usenet feed (or a better feed than the on you started with) because of the porn groups? Smarter observers than me have noticed that the appearance of porn on your new platform is proof, of a weak sort, that your platform is important enough to matter:

I’d offer the hypothesis that any sufficiently advanced read/write technology will get used for two purposes: pornography and activism. Porn is a weak test for the success of participatory media — it’s like tapping a mike and asking, “Is it on?” If you’re not getting porn in your system, it doesn’t work. Activism is a stronger test — if activists are using your tools, it’s a pretty good indication that your tools are useful and usable.

There’s one sentence there that’s very important: “If you’re not getting porn in your system, it doesn’t work.” The suits always miss an important corollary: “If you’re trying to root out the porn in your system, you’re trying to break your own system.”

But, strive to break it they do. It’s a seemingly-inevitable phase in the growth cycle of any commercial “read/write technology”. (Although, these days, I’ve noticed that a lot of new platforms are attempting to bake “broken for grownups” into their products from the beginning. Pinterest and your “no nudity” TOS, I’m thinking of you! Google+ and your war on nyms, you also.)

The first one of these cycles I lived through was eBay in the early days. If you remember that far back (we’re talking mid 1990s) eBay was especially vital and amazing right after it got a critical mass of users, but before the whole world had figured out that old stuff was suddenly much more valuable now that there was an efficient mechanism for matching it to willing buyers. Basically there was a supply glut on nifty old stuff right at first, the accumulated collectibles of history all hitting the market at once. And this was as true for vintage porn (magazines and books and videotapes) as it was for any other genre of collectibles.

And it was AWESOME. I still have (in very deep storage) apple boxes full of vintage porn magazines I bought for less money than it cost to have them shipped to me via USPS media mail. Someday I’d love to get a high speed scanner and put them all up on the web Internet Archive style, but it would be a labor of years and I’d need a very wealthy and eccentric patron. Meanwhile, I preserve them as best I can.

But then Meg Whitman happened. It’s too many years ago now for me to recall how many successive waves of anti-porn activism swept the eBay auction platform, but it was many.

The adult items got their own section, it got put behind an age self-verification button, the adult items vanished from the general search, the adult section itself got removed from the category listing making it very hard to find, and then there was wave after wave of auction removals based on listing policies that were vague and erratically enforced. There were rules about how much nudity could show on magazine covers, there were wide-ranging keyword bans that meant you could not list (or show an uncensored photo of) the true titles of many porn items, there was a ton of selective enforcement, and there was an enormous chilling effect because seller accounts were often banned or limited based on first-offense violations of these deeply-murky rules.

It eventually became clear to everyone that Ebay under Meg Whitman (the former Disney exec) was now officially hostile to porn, where once it had been the leading sales platform for vintage porn especially. The market dried up, market offerings became bland and boring, and everybody who was on eBay for that reason had left. The suits, having stricken off the member that so offended them, declared victory and moved on. They broke it, but they like broken better. Broken is what they wanted, broken is what they got.

So now: is Amazon doing the same with erotic ebooks? To me it looks like early days, but yeah, I see the handwriting on the wall.

One high-profile erotica author, Selena Kitt, writes: “The Pornocalypse has begun. Amazon continues filtering erotica out of their All Department Search in large numbers.”

That’s true as far as it goes. My nascent Bacchus Media porn ebook project has one erotica title (a Victorian erotica classic that I repackaged for the Kindle back in 2009) for sale on Amazon, and sure enough, it’s flagged “Adult” and does not appear in an “All Departments” search. But it does appear in “Kindle Store” and “Books” searches, which strikes me as proper behavior. This is not (yet) a hidden and unsearchable category ghetto.

Not yet. But erotic authors are starting to feel the noose. Here’s Selena Kitt in another post:

Hey, does anyone remember when Amazon started banning erotic fiction?

Or when Apple removed “certain” titles from their bestseller lists?

Or when Paypal stopped paying for “certain types” of erotica?

When Amazon began excluding books from its “all department” search?

When Smashwords started cracking down on “nipples and floppy bits and dangly parts?”

Or when Apple began rejecting outright those books which contained “certain content” they didn’t agree with?

Or when Barnes and Noble stripped bestselling erotica books (in the top 100) of their ranks by 1,000 points?

And the new anti-porn pornocalypse rules get bizarre very quickly. Why would the largest bookseller in the world deny the existence of the Erotic Romance category? Back to the first Selena Kitt post I linked to:

Back when I hit the top 100 on Amazon, the competition wasn’t anywhere near as fierce as it is today. They didn’t know quite what to do with a naked woman’s bottom on their bestseller list.

That’s when they began the system that we are seeing them implementing now — what we in erotica circles call the “ADULT filter.” Back then, you were only filtered (which means that you were excluded from the all-department search, and your book didn’t appear in the also-boughts of any books that were not filtered, which was very limiting at the time!) if your book contained nudity on the cover.

So I slapped a thong on the woman on my Babysitting the Baumgartners cover and Amazon “unfiltered” my book. Sales resumed at their usual pace and life went on. But I had to figure out myself what the problem was, the reason the filter had been applied in the first place. There was no transparency on Amazon’s part. None. Nada. I even talked on the phone to an “Amazon executive customer service representative” who would only “confirm or deny” my suspicions.

I felt like Woodward and Bernstein talking to Deep Throat in a parking garage somewhere. That’s how bizarre and surreal the conversation was.

The media has recently picked up on Amazon’s latest attack on “porn,” but the Pornocalypse looks as if it’s just begun.

The filtering tool that Amazon previously only used to exclude nudity on covers is now being applied to books arbitrarily, but in very, very large numbers. We haven’t seen a purge this big on Amazon since they banned incest and bestiality in erotic work.

First of all, Amazon has now separated Erotica and Romance. I don’t know if erotic romance writers know this or have realized it yet, but Amazon has recently changed their policy (not that they’ve told anyone about it or anything!) and you can no longer put your book in BOTH Erotica and Romance categories. You have to choose one or the other. “Erotic Romance” as a category will now classify your book as “erotica.”

And be careful, because once you have labeled your book as “erotic,” they will not allow you to reclassify it as NOT erotic. The only exception to this rule I have seen so far is for traditionally published books (ala Fifty Shades). Self-published books don’t get this treatment.

Meg Whitman rides again, and this time her name is Jeff Bezos. My prediction is, the pornocalypse rules will get more restrictive and more opaque and more arbitrary. Erotica will never vanish from Amazon’s platform — just like it never vanished completely from Ebay — but its prominence in the success of the Kindle platform will be swept under the rug of history.

And make no mistake: erotica mattered to the success of the Kindle and to that of ebook readers in general. Here’s my own take on that from a few months ago, from a post I called Discreet Porn For Women:

It’s no secret that the rise of the portable e-book reader (whatever brand you favor) has triggered a quiet boom in the prose-porn-for-women industry. But if you’re a man and you’re like me, you may have been fooled by the unassuming “Erotic Romance” styling of the genre.

When a book was a physical artifact only, you had three choices. First, you could limit your reading to book-objects that wouldn’t get you more grief than you could handle, when you were observed with them by your friends and family. Second, you could limit your reading to times and places so private that your book-objects were physically secure from observation. Or, third, you could fudge, by reading book-objects that looked more innocuous than they were, placing them in the first category by courtesy.

Now the electronic reader gives you a fourth choice: read whatever the hell you want, where-ever the hell you want, and just flip closed your completely opaque personalized bejazzled leatherette Hello Kitty e-reader cover whenever anybody else gets too close to your screen. Throw in the Internet so you can buy whatever the hell you want without any witnesses, and the circle is complete. Your credit card statement says “Amazon” and your browser history says (at worst) “erotic romance” and it’s all so very safe from inspection, criticism, or judgment.

Here’s a confirming related visual found at Bondage Blog, talking about why an iPad is an awesome thing to have for looking at porn in public:

porn built the Kindle before the pornocalypse came for it

Selena Kitt puts the “porn built the Kindle” case even more strongly, from her erotica author’s perspective:

Jeff Bezos may have put out the product, but I made the Kindle into what it is today. Me, and legions of other erotica writers who were already writing it, and those who came later, who saw how much readers were clamoring for it. Readers could suddenly read erotica without anyone seeing the cover. The Kindle device made that possible, Amazon made the Kindle available… but I provided the content readers were surreptitiously reading under their desks at work and on the subway home.

THAT is what sold Kindles. Porn. Face it, Jeff Bezos. You owe the success of Kindle to me, and to every erotica writer out there making a living writing “porn.”

It’s true. And Jeff Bezos knows it. But Amazon is moving on nonetheless. The Pornocalypse comes for us all.

Who is next? My guess would be Tumblr. [2018 update: Did I call this or what?] Tumblr is, of all the big platforms, perhaps the most porn friendly; there’s lots of porn on there and the Terms of Service do not prohibit it. But if you surf Tumblr porn blogs for very long, you’ll notice that they get deactivated a lot. There are some kind of rules (not published anywhere) and if you break them (or, maybe, if somebody complains) you get nuked.

What is forbidden? Tumblr does not say. Maybe it’s age-play images that causes trouble (it can be hard to distinguish that stuff from illegal/pedo shit after all), maybe it’s rough sex photos that aren’t obviously consensual/commercial porn, maybe it’s scat or bestiality. It’s hard to say when all you’ve got to go by is the occasional non-working link with [deactivated] in it.

But Tumblr is, famously, a popular platform in search of a revenue-generating business model. And we’ve learned that the suits have no loyalty to the porn users who made their platform popular. So, my bold prediction is that as Tumblr casts about for a business model, one of their steps will be to “clean this place up” (for the VCs, for the advertisers, for the potential buyers, for somebody). A lot more porn tumblrs will go away when that happens.

The pornocalypse comes for us all.

Is there any defense against the pornocalypse? Not really. To be sure, if you follow Bacchus’s First Rule Of The Internet you can at least protect yourself from losing your data and intellectual property when the anti-porn suits decide to “clean up” whatever social publishing platform you might otherwise have been using. You remember my First Rule: “Anything worth doing on the internet is worth doing at your own domain that you control.”

Unfortunately I wrote that before the true social power of platforms became fully apparent to me. You can protect your physical stuff from loss if you keep it buried in a cave, too, but what good is it if people can’t see it and play with it?

Social media platforms, publishing platforms, auction platforms, online stores, all of these benefit from the network effects of their many connected users, and increasingly they are turning into self-contained silos that aren’t sufficiently connected to the open internet. Following the First Rule protects you from loss, but it doesn’t expose you to gain as well as I thought it did, back in 2004 when I first wrote it down. Back then I believed in the power of the open web and in the impartiality of Google. You make a cool porn thing, you put it on the web, people will find it, joy and orgasms and profit for everybody.

But here in 2013 things look very different. What’s more useless than an iPhone app that isn’t allowed into the Apple store? If you publish that bad boy on your own domain, Google won’t surface it well for searchers and Apple won’t let them install it if they did find it. Nope, the First Rule is not enough.

If you want to play, you have to play where the people are. If you do anything with erotica and porn, that means shunning the platforms where you’re wholly unwelcome, pushing yourself as far as possible onto the platforms where you’re somewhat tolerated, and enthusiastically exploiting the platforms where you’re truly welcome.

But even when you do all this, it’s important to understand that companies and platforms have life cycles, and there seems inevitably to come a time in all of them where porn that was formerly welcome (often, porn that played a fundamental role in building the popularity of the platform) will get kicked to the curb or shoved behind a sleazy curtain at the back of the store. Although I believe in making this process as embarrassing and painful as possible for the companies that do it, I don’t really believe it can be prevented, or even mitigated much. All you can do is expect it, prepare for it, diversify as much as possible onto as many platforms as possible, and stay agile.

The pornocalypse comes for us all.

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March 15th, 2024 -- by Bacchus

The Pornocalypse Comes For Gumroad

Gumroad, which for those who don’t know it is an online sales platform that lets people sell a wide variety of digital content, has just gone full #pornocalypse, barring all sexually explicit content, defined extremely broadly. Like Patreon and for some of the same reasons (credit card processors) Gumroad’s adult content policies have always been a little bit incoherent. Nonetheless a lot of erotic artists were using the platform to sell things that weren’t welcome at Patreon, and that’s now over.

gumroad bans explicit content

There seems not to have been an announcement; the only link being bandied about is to their adult content policy page. Here’s what it looked like two days ago, and below is a side-by-side graphic (which expands slightly on clicking) of the changes. Porn featuring real people had already been banned, but as you can see the new prohibitions are much more sweeping, and touch on a wider universe of art, animation, comics, et cetera:

gumroad porn-hostile TOS comparison

Whenever we lose another adult-tolerant platform you’ll see people all over social media asking “What’s a good alternative?” There’s never a “good news” answer to that question. The squeeze on commercial erotic expression continues. Until we find a way to break the moralistic chokehold of the credit card companies, it’s not going to get better. The pornocalypse comes for us all.

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March 12th, 2023 -- by Bacchus

The Pornocalypse Comes For Your Geese

When I coined my now-infamous maxim that the pornocalypse comes for us all, it was a decade ago, and if prompted-AI generative art was a thing in some deep research lab, I certainly didn’t know of it. But now, today, it most certainly is a thing, and its masters and owners emphatically do not want you making porn with it. This menacing message is said to be from the Midjourney generative art tool:

no white goo for you

For as long as I’ve been on the pornocalypse beat, I’ve noticed a trend away from the classic pornocalypse (welcome porn users during early stages of a service, then dump them in a bid for respectability at a financial inflection point) towards baked-in pornocalypse: the service has porn-hostile terms of service from its inception.

Meanwhile, I extend a standing invitation: if you, my beloved readers, learn of any publicly-accessible generative-art tools that aren’t crippled by anti-porn “features” and filters, please make sure to let me know of them. That would be ErosBlog fodder for sure.

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February 7th, 2022 -- by Bacchus

“Never Build Your House On Someone Else’s Land”

This is a long post about how Facebook made the precise mistake I’ve been yelling about since forever. They forgot Bacchus’s First Rule, or stopped thinking it applied to them. And last week, it cost them so many billions of dollars.

apple altering the deal and ruining Facebook's revenue outlook

I Was There Early: Bacchus’s First Rule Of The Internet, Circa 2004

In various formulations I have preached what I now call Bacchus’s First Rule Of The Internet since 2004, when I got my earliest primitive inkling that social media platforms were the Sarlacc pits where independent websites went to die.

In those distant days, people who wanted to socialize in writing on the internet had started spending more and more time on “blogging services” platforms with primitive social media functionality, rather than making and reading actual free-standing websites. So folks with websites would, increasingly, just move all their shit onto the growing platforms, leaving their old websites behind to dry up and crumble away. Time would pass, and then something (like, for instance, a #pornocalypse event) would destroy their new social media presence, utterly and without recourse.

I believe I got started down this road of thinking when LiveJournal ate the Vintage Sex community. I’m stubborn about not forgetting this shit, and it helps that I have an ancient blog to preserve my ramblings. Whatever little else this old die-hard of a blog may be good for these days, it’s indisputably useful as an aide-mémoire.

After a variety of wording changes in the early years, by 2013 my First Rule finally settled down as follows:

“Anything worth doing on the internet is worth doing on your own server that you control.”

Light Dawns On Marble Head: My Comprehension Grows

In the early days, I honestly thought people were being bone-stupid. Why go put all your content on somebody else’s website — for them to control or delete at a whim — when you could be building your own traffic to your own website? Why give your content and traffic to some other website operator, for free? Why build up their web property instead of your own?

Eventually I came to understand it was not stupidity, but desperation. People in the social media platforms and silos weren’t leaving those spaces. They wouldn’t or couldn’t click away to our websites; our websites were dwindling, not growing. And of course, in the adult space, we feelthy porn people were increasingly not being allowed to put our stuff on the social media sites. Perhaps we were welcome for a short time, when the social media sites were new and desperate for growth. But always, inevitably, the shit would change, and we stinky pornsters would get booted. No exceptions: the pornocalypse comes for us all. I called it in 2013! “Ask not for whom the pornocalypse bell tolls: it tolls for thee.”

Facebook Gets Ever Fatter, And Stupider, Then Stumbles

OK, now put your thumb on the societal fast-forward button. Mash that sucker down hard — as hard as you can! Watch all of the horrible things happen to the web we knew, in a high-speed burst of time-lapsed video, complete with squealing-audio sound effects. Among many other terrible things that happened, Facebook got really huge by eating a lot of other people’s internet lunches. What’s left standing? The infamous five websites (now mostly appearing as apps, which will be important later in this story) are basically it. (That link is to a famous 2018 tweet that says “I’m old enough to remember when the Internet wasn’t a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four.”) A few vampire tubes bought up most of the porn sites, and the pornocalypse came for just about every last bit of adult content on social media, except on Twitter, where the clock on the time bomb has been ticking for years and getting louder all the time.

But then, last week, Facebook, recently rebranded as “Meta”, had a terrible earnings call, and lost a whole bunch of its market cap in a single trading day:

Facebook stock plummets

Whoopsie! But what in the hell happened?

The Biter, Bitten: Facebook Ignored Bacchus’s First Rule

What happened? What happened indeed?

I don’t follow Facebook news closely. To a pornographer, pornocalypse platforms are boring and useless. But I do read online news, and over the years I’ve seen Facebook utterly destroy all but the strongest few independent news platform. One by one, they ignored Bacchus’s First Rule: they took their content to Facebook, gave Facebook their traffic, and then got utterly shafted as Facebook deliberately and repeatedly changed the rules on them.

On Friday, Megan McArdle wrote a column in the Washington Post, which is one of the surviving “independent” (from Facebook, anyway) news platforms. It helps that WaPo is the fully-captive plaything of Jeff Bezos, who happens to be that rare creature, a “not Mark Zuckerberg” internet centibillionaire. Thus WaPo can still pay its people, and so they have some good ones. McArdle’s column is headlined We all learned a painful lesson from Facebook. Now Facebook is learning it, too. McArdle adeptly summarizes how Facebook got fat on people who ignored my First Rule. But then, as she explains, Facebook made the same mistake as its victims, leading to last week’s debacle of a one-day $251-billion market-cap loss.

Please allow me my moment of schadenfreude. All this is of course intensely satisfying to me. Am I officially smarter than the Zuckster now? Hot damn! But of course an instant and obvious rejoinder fills my inwardly-directed ears. In a voice deep and stern, as if my own father were speaking from beyond the grave, I hear “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”

McArdle writes, with rich expository linkage not reproduced here:

What Facebook is experiencing is a feeling we in the media knew all too well during the platform’s rise. Those users? They were spending time reading about their friend’s baby instead of reading news content written by professionals. And those digital ads Facebook was selling? They were gobbling up market share that used to belong to us news outlets. Without ads, a lot of publications went into precipitous decline.

No hard feelings, of course; all’s fair in love and free-market competition. However, the media was understandably eager to get our hands on some of that sweet, sweet traffic. We scrambled to build Facebook pages to woo readers, and when Facebook started limiting the reach of free pages, we supplemented our traffic by buying ads. We optimized our content for sharing and massaged our headlines to make them compulsively clickable. When Facebook went mobile-first, we mobilized, and when the company informed us that streaming content was the future, we duly pivoted to video.

Whole outlets were built around the clickbait Facebook seemed to want … and then died when Facebook, having encouraged all this activity, abruptly changed the algorithms to favor something else. The outlets that survived tended to be the ones that had largely given up trying to appease this jealous god and instead turned to alternative business models, such as selling subscriptions to a comparatively select few.

And this is where it starts to gets good!

The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch

McArdle goes on to explain precisely where Facebook went wrong. In a nutshell, when Facebook followed people into mobile apps and away from “the internet”, the Facebook people forgot that they don’t actually own mobile. Eventually, inevitably, playing on Apple’s and Google’s private playgrounds caught up with Facebook. Mobile apps don’t run on Facebook’s servers. Mobile apps aren’t under Facebook’s control. They should have listened to… little old me? Some two-bit sex blogger from before the dawn of time?

As a chronological aside, it’s true: ErosBlog’s genuinely one year and 25 days older than “Facemash”, as Facebook was named at first. But, to the company’s great cost, they didn’t listen! The deadly oversight caught up to them last year, when Apple finally sent them a candygram with a bomb in it by changing the IOS platform data-harvesting rules that used to let Facebook make so much money. McArdle again:

In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg decided to take the company all in on a mobile-first strategy. This was disruptive, at first, but in time, he would be seen as a visionary prophet leading his company to the promised land. The problem is, that land wasn’t owned by him. Zuckerberg had shifted his company away from the open platform of the browser and onto a closed system where Apple set the terms. For a long time, that was a very good deal for Facebook — but when Apple decided to alter the deal, Facebook didn’t really have much recourse.

Whoopsie again!

Let’s Do Schadenfreude Some More, That Was Fun

Do I feel a wee tiny bit smug about Facebook losing a quarter-trillion in market cap because they ignored Bacchus’s First Rule? Because Mark Fucking Zuckerberg made the specific mistake in 2012 that I warned about in these pages back in 2004, and then again in 2006, and then again for the third, fourth, and fifth times in 2007? And then some more times in 2010 and in 2011?

Fuck yeah I feel some smugness about that, theydies and gentlethems and glitterkittens! Nobody pays me to be a business consultant, but sometimes I do it anyway, for the sheer pleasure of being right on the internet. If you squint and hold your eyes correctly while you look at this situation, Zuckerberg personally lost thirty billion dollars of net worth in one day for not being an ErosBlog reader. And ErosBlog is totally free! So, you know, fuck that guy. Fuck him in particular.

fuck this thing in particular meme gif

So Long, And Thanks For The Metaphor

But this blog post from hell is only mostly about pointing out and hooting at Mark Zuckerberg’s predictable strategic missteps. The real reason I gathered you all together here today and subjected you to my endless blather is so that I can share the nifty metaphor McArdle built her whole column around. I wish I’d had this framing at my verbal fingertips back in 2004, and subsequently! Maybe more people would have understood what I meant by my Rule. Her column opens:

In 2015, some professors at Virginia’s Sweet Briar College faced an unusual problem. Through the college, they had purchased homes on campus. The land underneath them, however, was still owned by their employer. And now the college was closing, and presumably selling the campus to someone who might want to use that land for something else.

Happily, Sweet Briar was rescued at the last minute by its alumnae. But the financial cavalry don’t always ride to the rescue just in time, so the plight of the professors nonetheless stands as a vivid example of a wise business adage: “Never build your house on someone else’s land.”

Let’s say that again: Never build your house on someone else’s land.

That’s what Bacchus’s First Rule has been trying to get at ever since 2004. It’s clear, it’s succinct, it communicates with clarity. That tight little sentiment is why this crusty old sex blog is still here, surviving on my sponsorships and generous patrons, long after most of the other sex bloggers moved to Tumblr or wherever, only to get rug-pulled by some sudden pornocalypse event.

After citing her Sweet Briar College example of the “someone else’s land” metaphor operating literally, McArdle references the metaphor as “a wise business adage”. Since I’m not in the business world, I never heard it before. You know this is true because I would have been repeating it at you like a broken record!

A bit of Googling suggests that the adage wasn’t much in the popular parlance before McArdle began writing about it. The earliest reference I found was a 2014 blog post quoting a 2013 paywalled Bloomberg article McArdle herself wrote. I can’t get at the Bloomberg article, but the post summarizes it thusly:

Megan McCardle explains the relevance of a maxim she learned in business school: “Never build your house on someone else’s land.”

So apparently we have McArdle’s B-school professors to thank for this succinct metaphor. Which I hereby do! And McCardle herself has my thanks for popularizing it. Now, if only Zuckerberg had gotten the memo, imagine how much money he might have saved…

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November 2nd, 2021 -- by Bacchus

Pornocalypse Comes For Your Roku

I’ve been aware since at least 2014 that there were shadow porn channels on the Roku. These porn channels are usually associated with major-brand pay pornsites, they don’t show up in the Roku channel list, but they’ve long been available nonetheless. Well, that’s all over now. The pornocalypse comes for us all.

XBiz reports:

roku pornocalypse headline

LOS ANGELES — Roku announced a change of policy concerning private channels last week at its annual developer conference that will result in an effective ban of porn channels by March 1, 2022.

Companies affected by the ban include Pornhub, AdultEmpire, AEBN, Wicked, Adult Time and Naughty America.

All of these companies’ Roku channels are expected to disappear on March 1, 2022.

Roku has been the target of a well-funded campaign by religiously motivated anti-porn crusading group NCOSE (formerly known as Morality in Media).

Morality in Media — our ancient enemy — strikes again!

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August 18th, 2020 -- by Bacchus

Pornocalypse Comes For VR Porn On Oculus Headsets

Today’s headline at The Virge focuses on the way that Oculus, the Facebook-owned leading manufacturer of virtual reality (VR) headsets, is forcing its users into the Facebook social media ecosystem, and appears perfectly willing to soft-brick its own hardware to punish the reluctant or unwilling:

You’ll Need a Facebook Account to Use Future Oculus Headsets.

Oculus will soon require all of its virtual reality headset users to sign up with a Facebook account.

Starting later this year, you’ll only be able to sign up for an Oculus account through Facebook. If you already have an account, you’ll be prompted to permanently merge your account. If you don’t, you’ll be able to use the headset normally until 2023, at which point official support will end. Old headsets using non-linked accounts will still work, but some games and apps may no longer function.

Facebook also says that all future unreleased Oculus devices will require a Facebook login, even if you’ve got a separate account already.

Yes, that’s a clear violation of our nation’s anti-trust laws. No, anti-trust enforcement isn’t really a thing these days, which is how they can get away with it. Moving on. Antitrust in tech is a fascinating subject, but it’s not the ErosBlog beat.

Pornocalypse? Now, that’s our beat. From the article:

The new changes apparently consolidate Facebook’s management of its platforms. A new privacy policy will be administered by Facebook itself, not the separate Facebook Technologies hardware subsidiary, and “Facebook will manage all decisions around use, processing, retention and sharing of your data.” Oculus will also adopt Facebook’s core community standards rather than use a separate code of conduct, and Facebook will add a new “VR-focused” section to its standards.

Emphasis added by me: “Oculus will also adopt Facebook’s core community standards.” Boom. Headshot. That’s the ballgame. #Pornocalypse comes for Oculus. It’s right there in the Facebook community standards:

facebook prohibits porn on the oculus

The very first time I ever mentioned virtual reality porn on this blog was in 2016, when I quoted Mark Mann at The Walrus for the proposition that VR porn was a compelling use of virtual reality:

When it comes to porn, VR is so engaging that viewers “forget” it’s a simulation. The penis I saw through my headset, for example, seemed to rise from between my legs. It wasn’t an unnaturally large member, and the owner was caucasian, so it was believably my own. The model was life-size and more than life-like. It was so much like being alone in a room with another living, breathing human that my mind didn’t bother to contemplate the difference.

In a nutshell, that’s why porn has been a big driver of headset sales from the beginning. Porn is always a driver of new and expensive technologies, especially if you’re marketing the fancy new gadgets (and you always are) to well-off young tech-savvy men. And that’s why it’s always been a truism in tech that, if your system doesn’t have porn on it, your system is broken. In my 2013 The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All post, I quoted some 2008 words by Ethan Zuckerman that he attributed to his late-1990s experiences at Tripod, an early web hosting and prototypical social media company in what was called the “portal” space:

I’d offer the hypothesis that any sufficiently advanced read/write technology will get used for two purposes: pornography and activism. Porn is a weak test for the success of participatory media — it’s like tapping a mike and asking, “Is it on?” If you’re not getting porn in your system, it doesn’t work.

Porn has really worked well for Oculus/Facebook. The headset company had its origins in a successful 2012 Kickstarter, got bought by Facebook in 2014, and released its first consumer product in 2016. Thus, Facebook has been in complete control, throughout the product’s rise to prominence in the world of VR porn.

You might reasonably ask “What prominence?” So, let’s do a little experiment to assess that. Type “VR Porn” into your browser. As I write this, the first result is, no shock, a site called (They have, more than once, been ErosBlog advertisers.) One click (on “How to watch VR Porn”) takes you to their hardware page. Oculus products make up three of their ten supported platforms:

three oculus porn headsets

It’s the same old weary pornocalypse story. Tech companies (even ones like Facebook, which has #pornocalypse backed into its very bones) cheerfully allow porn during the initial stages of a new technology or social media project. Then, once the product reaches a certain stage of maturity, they decide it’s time to “go respectable” and push all the porn off the platform. Dance with the ones what brung ya? Hell no! We don’t even know those dirty perverts!

#Pornocalypse comes for us all. Today (with delayed/deferred rolling implementation stretching to 2023) it came for all the people who dropped large coin for an Oculus headset in the expectation of watching porn on it. Facebook says to you: “Sorry, suckers!”

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June 16th, 2020 -- by Bacchus

Sixteen Years Of Pornocalypse At Adam & Eve

I am somewhat notorious for doom-and-glooming that the pornocalypse comes for us all. The aphorism is shorthand for my observation that companies and social media platforms evolve through a life cycle in which porn, adult sites, and persons interested in these are initially welcome while a platform or internet business builds out its internet presence, and then — slowly or rapidly — these outfits purge all the porn from their platforms in response to various pressures. Often, there’s a hypocritical element, especially when the company or platform retains a business model that’s porn-adjacent. In such cases, the porn purge looks like greasily disingenuous posturing: “What we do here is a matter of healthy pleasure. We’re not pornographic, oh no! And to prove it, we’ll exclude all those stinky pornographers — yes, the very ones that we courted for their traffic and money when we were younger, newer, and more desperate for traffic.”

The #pornocalypse comes for us all. I’ve detailed dozens of examples since 2013 and — without the catchphrase — going all the way back to 2004 when LiveJournal started cracking down on the sex bloggers who helped make it great. I’ve been on this beat a long time.

You want to know who has been on their beat even longer than I’ve been on mine? The legendary sex toy sellers Adam & Eve, who these days style themselves the “#1 Adult Toy Superstore.” They’ve been at it for fifty fucking years — an entire half-century. They got their start selling condoms and lube in brick-and-mortar stores, then branched out by starting a highly-successful condoms-by-mail business at a time when this was still technically illegal because of the Comstock Act. At some point they added sex toys and began franchising their brand to more than sixty sex shops nationwide. Prior to 1996, they put up a website they called “a collection of the finest erotic catalogs on the Internet.” Yeah, they’ve been at this game for a minute or two.

Now, let me tell you the story of how Adam & Eve the sex toy selling mega-chain first came to overlap with my little operation here at ErosBlog. Cast your mind back sixteen years, to 2004. There I was, blogging happily along, when I got a lovely email from Libby. “Libby from Adam & Eve” was a genuinely nice person who later became a sex blogger in her own right. In 2004, she greeted me with kind words complimenting ErosBlog for being “chock full of wickedness” and being “one of the most popular sex blogs in the world.” (That last was the best kind of flattery, since it was, at the time, essentially true.) Here’s Libby’s entire email. (Yes, I still have it.) You’ll need to click to make it big enough to read:

adam & eve affiliate pitch 2004

The essence of Libby’s pitch: Adam & Eve wanted to “start a brand new e-lationship” with ErosBlog. (Aren’t you glad that neologism didn’t catch on?) Our new “e-lationship”, boiled down, was intended to be a sort of primitive affiliate deal:

20 percent affiliate share for DVD offer

Wasn’t that nice?

In truth, it wasn’t. In those halcyon days, most affiliate schemes offered more than a 20% revshare. And although sex toy affiliate programs have always been notorious for not offering useful stats that an affiliate can use to track sales, Adam & Eve basically had no stats at all; it was my impression that their program was a “trust us” deal where they periodically paid out revenue without any visibility at all into the number of sales, the referring links, or anything else that affiliates need to verify that we are getting fairly paid.

So I wrote back, and, long story short, pitched them to buy a banner ad instead. Which they did, maintaining it on and off for the next year or two. My stinky-porn sex blog traffic was worth paying for, and pay they did:

adam & eve 2005 banner ad on erosblog

Note the content the Adam & Eve banner ad is running next to in this screenshot: it’s a brutal spanking photo from this post, featuring an interview with a spanking model about the experience of modeling for one of the most severe/BDSM spanking porn producers of her day. In 2004 and 2005, Adam & Eve was happy to advertise against this raunchy porn content.

But, you know: the pornocalypse comes for us all.

Fast forward to 2020. I am, for various reasons, currently in the market for a good sex toy affiliate program. I went to Adam & Eve to see what their offering might be these days. And it instantly became clear that they have succumbed to the pornocalypse. Their affiliate program these days has two layers of content screening for potential affiliates. A potential affiliate has to satisfy not only Adam & Eve, but also their third-party affiliate program operator, a company called Ascend.

Adam & Eve, who used to be totally fine running their banner against painful spanking content, now say they won’t allow their affiliate links to appear on any website that publishes bondage, pain, or urination content:

no bondage, pain, or pissing

Well, fuck. ErosBlog sometimes offers pissing stuff. bondage, BDSM, and pain content, too. After all these years, I still have zero fucking clue how a photo of a bondage scene is supposed to “depict” the “consent of the participants” — is the model supposed to hold an “I consent” cardboard sign, or what? Indeed, I’ve blogged at length about the actual ways to confirm consent in the BDSM porn we enjoy. Ironically, one of the first posts in which I did so was the brutal-spanking post that appears next to Adam & Eve’s banner in the 2005 screenshot above.

But that’s not all. Adam & Eve have some sort of working agreement with an affiliate program operator called Ascend. To become an Adam & Eve affiliate in 2020, you’ve also got to satisfy the content requirements that Ascend imposes:

porn verboten

That’s right, folks. To sell sex toys for Adam & Eve, you’ve got to do it from a website that doesn’t have any “pornographic, obscene, sexually explicit, or related content.” I dunno how you’d do that, but them’s the rules. I didn’t make ’em.

I call terms of service like this “porn-hostile TOS”. It’s my policy not to do business with anybody that has porn-hostile TOS. But, sometimes, the porn-hostile TOS are just for show. Sometimes, they are intended to cover butts and look good, but they aren’t enforced. By the time I got this deep into reading the rules, I had become curious whether Adam & Eve (and Ascend) could actually be 100% serious about all this porn-hostile nonsense. From a sex toy retailer! So I went ahead and filled out an affiliate application, just for the pleasure of seeing my inevitable rejection letter.

I was not disappointed. Here it is:

affiliate rejection letter

That makes it all nice and offical! My website does not meet their quality standards. It contains “inappropriate content”. Sixteen years ago, they pitched me to join their affiliate program, and when I said no, they bought advertising. Now? The pornocalypse comes for us all. Nowadays, you can’t sell sex toys for Adam & Eve if your website has “pornographic” or “sexually explicit” content. How the fuck does that even work? Sex toys are sexually explicit by fucking definition. Putting the Adam & Eve link on your website makes your website sexually explicit! What the actual fuck? It doesn’t make any sense.

The pornocalypse comes for us all. It fucking ate Adam & Eve.

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