How the U.K. Won’t Keep Porn Away From Teens – Smart Media Magazine

How the U.K. Won’t Keep Porn Away From Teens


The adult industry has for the most part taken a wait-and-see approach to the Digital Economy Act, which, not unlike Brexit, has been limping toward an uncertain resolution for some time. Now that the new rules are bearing down on adult sites, the biggest threat the industry sees isn’t the specter of creeping censorship, or of the government getting into citizens’ private business, but of further corporate consolidation by a firm that has already remade the industry in its image.

MindGeek’s largest properties are “tube sites,” as in YouTube, which allow users to upload videos of their own, and which have come to dominate online porn consumption in the last decade. Tube sites have been criticized for embracing a growth strategy common among major online media platforms: turning a blind eye toward stolen content uploaded to their sites in service of growth; then, once they’ve become dominant, using that leverage to work with producers directly.

“What we call free porn is a misnomer, because it’s very often pirated or stolen,” said Shira Tarrant, author of “The Pornography Industry: What Everyone Needs to Know,” and a professor at California State University, Long Beach. Tube sites haven’t just capitalized on stolen content, Dr. Tarrant said: They’ve altered the character of the content itself. “What gets clicked more shows up more.” On large, centralized sites the reliance on algorithmic recommendations (as on some mainstream social media platforms) means that narrow categories of content rise to the top, creating feedback loops. “It can repeat a lot of stereotypes,” she said.

“There’s a lot about MindGeek that the average person doesn’t know,” said Jiz Lee, an adult performer and film producer, including “having built their empire off of pirated content.” Their involvement in enforcing age regulations is doubly worrying because “porn being accessible to children is a problem of their own making.”

“I know that MindGeek says, ‘don’t worry, your information is safe,’ but I think we all have reason to worry,” Dr. Tarrant added. The company has suffered data breaches in the past. And from an industry perspective, installing a MindGeek-owned sign-in portal (from which the company could see, at bare minimum, how popular a competitor is) would feel like one more concession to the porn world’s own fearsome tech giant.

MindGeek has said that it will not actually collect or store any such user data through AgeID; the company will further outsource the actual age verification to separate age verification sites, including Yoti, which verifies users by asking for a selfie and a government issued ID.



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