Will Pornhub Save Civilization?

Pornhub is soliciting, if soliciting is the word I want, the tumblr “refugees” to set up camp on their site after the impending forced removal from their ancestral homeland.

Tumblr’s ban on all NSFW content goes into effect on December 17, and pornhub seems a pretty good fit for those folks. I hope it all works out for them.

But tumblr kinksters and artists and “deviant” subcultures are by no means the only cohort of people being banned, censored, limited, demonetized, etc. by platforms. This category, in fact, includes potentially (and maybe even actually) 100% of people on the internet — “actually” because you can be shadow-banned, hidden, and suppressed without your being aware of it; and in fact, this is the standard operating procedure for these platforms, affecting the entire internet. And, of course, it doesn’t affect only the content creators, but those who might want to see what they have to say, who can’t see it, or even know it exists, without it being visible. They, the platforms, have reasons for doing things this way, I’m sure. But their reasons and your interests may well not coincide and may indeed contradict each other. (And in my experience, just trying to promote my dumb little band, they quite often do.)

But there’s no reason, that I can see, why content posted on pornhub would have to be porn, or NSFW, or indeed genuinely naughty at all. It’s a network, and from what I’ve heard it functions at least as well as any of the other networks. Anything could be posted there. It could be political commentary that strays into heretical or controversial territory. It could be art that platforms might judge to be non-advertiser friendly, or that rubs activist mobs the wrong way. It could be poems that include bad words. It could be academic papers that get “disappeared” from academic journals for reaching politically incorrect conclusions. It could just be people with a band or a book to promote who don’t like the idea of their content being hidden or manipulated for reasons having nothing to do with anything but the financial interests of the handful of corporations who are somewhat inexplicably in charge of all information in this dystopian digital world we have, rather stupidly, created.

A truly free space for uncensored things, set upon a platform with no standards at all. Sounds pretty nice.

But of course, pornhub is one of those corporations too. And even if this whimsical idea of evading censorship by moving the entire internet over to a porn site were to happen, I’m sure all the usual censorious forces and devices would come roaring back after a brief “Prague Spring”, banning this, demonetizing that, just as before. People (artists, dissidents, writers, feminists, conspiracy theorists, philosophers, historians, comedians, weirdoes, and noncomformists) would begin to get letters from Pornhub Trust and Safety informing them that their accounts had been permanently deleted for unspecified violations of vaguely-worded terms of service. “But all I said was, that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah…” Eventually, there’ll be no Jehovah talk even on pornhub, and everybody must get stoned.

Still, it is already a platform devoted to naughtiness to begin with. It would have a lot further to fall to get to the censorship threshold, it seems to me. It’s a fun, funny idea, and the Prague Spring would certainly be nice while it lasted. Maybe, though it’s extremely unlikely, we’ll have grown up enough by then, and will have finally grasped the importance of the free exchange of ideas, even disreputable ones; and we will devise a way to make the Pornhub Spring last forever.

And perhaps one day, far in the future, when the new uncensored internet has been long-established as the central, comprehensive repository and distributor of all information and become simply a fact of life, a child might be heard to ask her grandfather:

“But Grandpa, why is it called P-Hub?”

“Ah, my child,” he might respond. “That comes from a time long, long ago, when the only free place to express ideas freely was a website of naked people. That’s what the ‘P’ originally stood for.”

“P, for ‘People?’” she might say.

“Yes.”

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

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