Imgur Now Banned Porn Videos | Wired

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Imgur is doing it. Clean up.

Starting May 15, the site will purge pornographic images and inactive content unrelated to the account from its archives. The popular image, GIF and meme service is encouraging people to save images if they don’t want them to disappear from the web forever. But the change could result in a mass removal of content from the platforms where Imgur posts appear—including amateur pornographic content, which may focus on different bodies, genders, and sexualities than content on mainstream porn sites. And it marks another site’s foray into censorship—but this time responsible for handling content shared widely across the web.

“It will definitely have a big ripple effect,” said Jillian York, director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which focuses on civil liberties online. “Sex is very important. Nude expression is another important step. I still don’t feel like we have a broad vision of what the human body can look like in America.

The disappearance of pornographic images on Imgur may exacerbate this. The site’s move is sudden and the reason unclear, but it follows the same policies as Instagram, Linktree, and most notably Tumblr, which banned porn in 2018. There is a major effort to comply with the US’s Fight and Stop Online Sex Trafficking Act. Enabling the Sexual Trafficking in Persons Act (or FOSTA-SESTA) and, although it did not specifically mention those initiatives, Imgur said in a statement about the shift that the explicit content “poses a threat to the Imgur community and its business.” Scratching, the site added, protects against those risks. Imgur did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would include pornography and what it calls “inactive” images from its massive library of content. But the ad said content it deemed “artistic” could remain.

It will be difficult to distinguish between them. The site says it uses automated software and human moderators to identify pornographic content. Tumblr It employed artificial intelligence when it instituted the porn ban in 2018, but it didn’t get off to a good start, and seemingly random non-porn images were often suggested. The ban was followed by a steep drop in visitors, and eventually in 2022, Tumblr rolled back the restrictions to allow nudity and sexual themes. It still prohibits sexual intercourse.

Some experts see Imgur as another platform that bends to political pressure. “It’s very troubling that this is part of that larger political agenda,” said Phoenix Calida, director of communications for the Sex Worker Outreach Project USA, which focuses on ending the stigma and violence against sex workers. Kalida noted that some people’s images were uploaded to Imgur against their will, so their deletion would be positive. But it means the end of the hosting platform for sex workers who have stored their libraries there. “It’s causing a lot of anxiety and fear, because we’re in this sociopolitical climate where anything that’s perceived as sexual is censored,” says Kalida.

Child exploitation content and revenge porn are major problems on social media. But policies aimed at reducing sex exploitation have pushed online sex workers away from social media. Maggie Macdonald, a PhD candidate studying pornography at the University of Toronto, says the trend is based on a “risk and harm framework.” “This should be the frame. No one is shocked and it’s all for the greater good.” says McDonald. But I don’t believe that the public good is served by regulating sexism.

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