What is Section 230 and Why Should I Care? 

Global business operates in Adult B2B Marketing. We collaborate with clients from all over the world, each with their own unique viewpoints and cultural experiences.

The ability to function as an adult in a given area is contingent upon the degree of freedom of speech on the internet and the degree to which these governments protect these rights; however, this is not the only determining factor.

Adult B2B Marketing is aware that, at the moment, this may be the most urgent problem.

The Decency Act of 1996, Section 230

Just Western ideals?

Free speech and expression are highly valued in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, among other countries. This protection is regarded as a basic human right by the UN and other organizations.

It is important to understand why so many companies and website owners in the porn industry rely on American legal standards for things like age verification, model compliance, and free expression, given that certain cultures and countries do not hold similar opinions. This explains, for instance, why a large number of adults employed in the industry are in favor of laws such as Section 230, also known as “the First Amendment of the internet.”

Perspectives on Sex and Pornography Around the World

The adult entertainment business is divisive, regardless of how accepting our society will be of our right to pursue sexual freedom in our private lives. The creation and sharing of consenting adult content on the internet for other adults to view is largely tolerated in the majority of Western Hemisphere countries. There are countries such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and Spain, to mention a few. Pornographic content is now largely accepted as a part of culture, unless there is a pushback against digital rights led by the European Union and the UK government.

However, this is not how other countries do things. Many countries, including China, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India—some of which even profess to be defenders of freedom of speech and human rights—have restricted or outright banned pornography. It should be mentioned that “pornographic” and “obscene” content are governed and prohibited by the Chinese Communist Party since they are viewed as counter-revolutionary and detrimental to the morality of the nation.

In Islamic Asia, there are several examples, especially in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, of people being arrested for no other reason than uploading content to their social media or OnlyFans accounts.

In a more recent case, an Egyptian fashion model is facing legal action for appearing as an Egyptian princess in a medieval costume. The revealing nature of the outfit and the fact that the photo session took place in a well-known location with historical and cultural value are the main causes of the issue.

Fundamentals of Section 230

All companies that utilize the internet to broadcast speech are protected legally in the United States by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Although the regulation itself is quite wide, we are aware that this phrase is as well. Let’s take a quick look at the past.

Typical Discussions About Section 230

I’m sure most of you are somewhat aware of Section 230. It goes beyond just being a political buzzword to criticize the influence of large online companies and social media in politics.

Former US President Donald Trump loved to criticize Section 230 because he believed that the biggest tech companies in the world, like Google and Twitter, systematically censor politically conservative points-of-view on platforms that are owned and operated by companies that have opposing views. Academic and media ethics study indicates that there is insufficient evidence to support these systematic biases, and numerous segments of the technology industry, including adult entertainment, dispute the claims.

Joseph Biden, the US president currently in office, has expressed opposition to Section 230. Biden and progressives in the US contend that hate speech and intolerance are allowed under Section 230. Despite having different grievances, both parties seek to repeal or modify Section 230 in order to remove the safe harbor provision, which shields platforms.

The Age of “Communications Decency” and Safe Harbor

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was approved by the US Congress during a rapid period of internet development. Since the invention of the web browser and file sharing, the adult digital market has grown and created many of the industry-wide business practices that are still in use today.

Because the Communications Decency Act placed criminal and civil penalties on anyone who allowed the transmission of “obscene” information to children, it was supported by groups such as child protection organizations, anti-porn organizations, and ministries with connections to religion. Politicians effectively developed legislation that would forbid the transmission of any obscene material and visual content that would be considered harmful to minors, such as violent news articles or information on sexual health, given the rudimentary understanding of the internet at the time. This statute quickly restricted the right to free expression.

The Supreme Court’s Involvement

However, the US Supreme Court, along with civil liberties organizations in their ruling, ruled that the majority of the Communications Decency Act violated both the First Amendment and the US Constitution. In the US, the First Amendment protects a number of rights, including the freedom of speech, the press, religion, and sexual orientation.

Section 230 was upheld by the Supreme Court because to the phrasing of this law provision. The majority of free speech protected by the First Amendment is likewise covered by this clause, the high court said. This covers the safe harbor provision that we previously mentioned.

The safe harbor provision in Section 230 allows online platforms to self-regulate and filter the information that is placed on them by other users or publishers. With this kind of legal authority, the companies running the internet platforms can forbid and filter information from third parties that they consider to be harmful, illegal, or against their corporate policies or service agreements.

Adult Content on Social Media: A Two-Sided Relationship

Because Section 230 has been associated with the First Amendment and the online right to free expression in US case law, it is often referred to as the “First Amendment of the internet.” However, the legal landscape pertaining to the adult entertainment industry is nuanced. Although Section 230 encourages platforms like Pornhub or xHamster to police their own tube sites for illegal and non-consensual content and report it to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, the law permits social networks like Twitter to shadow ban adult content producers based on ambiguous interpretations of the law by the company and its use terms.

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are the top four social media networks used by companies that provide adult entertainment and content creators. Twitter is the only network that allows complete nudity and sex scenes, with the addition of age limitation limits that the corporation recently imposed in response to multiple hurried legal challenges in countries like the United Kingdom and India. Although the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok maintains a strict policy prohibiting nudity, it is widely known for permitting the exposure of clothes and the use of “link in bio” features via Linktree, My.Bio, and AllMyLinks, among other third-party services. The same applies to Instagram in cases when frontal nudity is minimized or never seen. Because the program is meant for users to send and receive bit-sized, self-destructing images and texts, Snapchat is not strict about these rules. As a result, a lot of cam models, the creators of OnlyFans, and independent artists “sell” access to their personal Snapchat accounts.

Due to Section 230’s legislative and judicial significance, these corporations and their platforms have the legal authority to self-regulate and control material in order to improve user experience and digital safety.

It might be difficult to determine when to take moderation action against an adult model or a pornographic studio, though. This is a long-standing issue in the industry that is now unclear legally. As you might have expected, the adult industry depends on Section 230‘s protections for its own platforms. However, we also have to quickly adapt to the difficulties presented by social media censorship and the difficulties associated with our content being distributed by platforms that we do not own but rather use as third parties to increase traffic and lead generation for new fans.

Rights of Citizens and Section 230

In many cases, Section 230 is a federally recognized civil right in the United States. That is, at least, how civil rights and internet freedom organizations interpret Section 230. The Electronic Freedom Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Wikimedia Foundation, for example, are among the civil liberties and digital freedom organizations that argue that anything that challenges Section 230 in its current form would violate the right to free expression for nearly every website that is used by citizens of the United States. Given the global nature of the digital world, that essentially means the whole internet.

The controversial FOSTA-SESTA bill is being opposed by the Woodhull Freedom Foundation in concert with other civil liberties and human rights organizations. During the Trump administration, the FOSTA-SESTA bill was passed with the declared goal of stopping online sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The legislation claims that Section 230 is a statute that authorizes these acts at an alarmingly high rate in order to combat this sort of crime, notwithstanding the real goal behind it. That’s not the case, though. In violation of Section 230 and the First Amendment, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation claims that FOSTA-SESTA prevents the internet from displaying consensually made and constitutionally protected sexual content.

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