Internet | March 1, 2021 12:21 pm

Why Reddit Doesn’t Plan on Banning Porn

"Sex is universal."

reddit
Reddit is porn-positive.
Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

There was a time when the internet itself was practically synonymous with porn. In recent years, however, the world wide web has become an increasingly unwelcome environment for sexual content of any kind, and an increasingly hostile one for sex workers, educators and other sex-positive content creators who once thrived online.

In the wake of legislation like FOSTA/SESTA — which, while purportedly designed to prevent sex-trafficking, has been accused of targeting and endangering consensual sex workers — many online platforms have cracked down on sex content, tightening restrictions and introducing platform-wide bans on anything that might be considered explicit. Facebook-owned Instagram has long had a reputation for prudery, and sent many sex workers, educators and other sex-positive activists scrambling to rebuild an online presence on more welcoming platforms late last year after announcing a new slate of even more rigid community guidelines. Even Pornhub, the internet’s go-to destination for pornographic content, has employed significant policy changes in the wake of a New York Times article accusing the platform of hosting exploitative content.

As more and more social media platforms attempt to distance themselves from sex, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has made it clear that his will not be among them. In a recent interview with Axios on HBO, Huffman explained the company’s decision to continue to allow sexually explicit content on Reddit.

“Sex is universal. And like many topics on Reddit, sex is one of those topics that’s often not well-served, online or offline,” said Huffman. While the CEO acknowledged that pornography can be exploitative, noting that is “not the content that we want on Reddit,” Huffman added that sharing and viewing sexual content can also be empowering: “These are people sharing stories of themselves, pictures of themselves. And we are perfectly supportive of that.”

That said, Reddit isn’t a lawless, pornographic free-for-all. “We want people to be safe. We have rules on Reddit,” Huffman continued, explaining that the platform strictly prohibits “involuntary sexualization” and, of course, “sexualization of minors.”

“There are difficult decisions to make in this sphere,” Huffman continued, “But we think they’re worth making, as opposed to saying, you know, ‘No sex at all.’”

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