When X (formerly Twitter) launched paid subscription verification, Mistress Rouge, a professional ***, hoped that it would help her advertise to new clients. But paying for the service didn’t protect her from X’s crackdown on explicit content, which is a particularly hard blow for *** workers on the platform who have few options to promote themselves elsewhere.
“It has done basically nothing for my Twitter engagement,” Mistress Rogue told AKUURA over DM. “I feel like a fool for paying it. I feel fooled by Elon Musk.”
X Premium, the subscription previously called Twitter Blue, was supposed to grant users more than just a blue check mark. For a $7.99 monthly fee, the service promises prioritized rankings, ranking replies from verified users higher than replies from non-verified users. It’s also supposed to give posts that verified users interact with a boost in engagement, according to X’s Help Center.
Under Musk’s leadership, X has become increasingly hostile toward *** and explicit content. This week, X started flagging NSFW posts as “sensitive material,” as Rolling Stone reported, and restricting flagged accounts to limit their reach. Sex workers said their engagement tanked and their accounts no longer show up in X’s search, even if they weren’t notified about being flagged. In screenshots shared with Rolling Stone and posted online, X told flagged accounts that their posts may be obscured with a warning to prevent people from seeing sensitive content, and that they may also be excluded from the For You and Following timelines, recommended notifications and trends.
Mistress Rogue is one of many *** workers who want to cancel their subscriptions because of the punitive measures X is taking against adult content.
“I thought it would help my engagement but now I feel like it’s a waste of money,” Mistress Rogue continued.
Sex workers were quick to adopt Twitter Blue in hopes that the boost in engagement would shield them from the shadowbanning and disproportionate censorship that they’re typically subject to on social media. Paying for a subscription, even if they didn’t support Musk’s changes to the platform, was essential for many *** workers to avoid being deplatformed.
Twitter was one of the only social media sites that tolerated explicit content, and until Musk’s takeover, it was a thriving hub for *** workers to share resources, find community and promote their services. The site’s culture was heavily influenced by the strippers, adult content creators and full-service escorts who drove both traffic and memes. But now branded as X, the site is becoming less tolerant of ***, *** and anything remotely ***.
The crackdown affected accounts regardless of their X premium subscription. A *** worker who goes by Mara Villana on X warned fellow NSFW creators that her verified account was flagged and restricted. In replies to her post, she speculated that “they are trying to rid the app of SW [*** work] altogether.” Mara Villana did not immediately respond to AKUURA’s request for comment.
For those of you with NSFW/SW accounts wondering where your engagement has gone to. This is why.
X is flagging ALL creators, EVEN THOSE WITH BLUE TICKS, who have even slightly sensitive material (my account was flagged because of my ***) and putting a label on them and… pic.twitter.com/MYGLR1WbDk
— 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗮 𝗩𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗮 | Colorado Dominatrix (@VillainatrixXx) October 13, 2023
Twitter allowed consensual pornographic content, but X’s sensitive media policy forbids adult *** and *** behavior, which it defines as media “that is pornographic or intended to cause *** arousal.” The policy applies to full or partial ***, simulated *** acts and *** acts depicted by “cartoons, ***, or anime involving humans or depictions of animals with human-like features.” Under X’s policy, even suggestive imagery is flagged as sensitive media.
Alleria, a *** who subscribes to X Premium, said one of her posts was flagged even though it didn’t contain explicit ***. The image, which was reviewed by AKUURA, was a heavily pixelated shot of Alleria’s crotch, which was further obscured by a black bar. In white text over the bar, the image said “NO PUSSY FOR BETA LOSERS.”
“It was the word that triggered it I think, because the *** is blurred out,” Alleria said. “It’s already censored.”
She said that she’s “not happy” about paying for X Premium because it only boosts views on her replies to other people’s posts, not on her own posts. She had to “go PG rated” with her X content, and only saw a marginal bump in her post views when she started engaging with users outside of the NSFW community.
“I honestly don’t understand why X is targeting *** content on this site when there is dangerous misinformation, racism and bigotry freely flowing from this site,” she said. “You would think targeting consenting adult *** content would be the last thing X should be doing.”
In its hurry to suppress adult content, X is neglecting to moderate the misinformation and violent rhetoric proliferating on the platform.
Misinformation has been rampant on X, particularly in wake of the escalating conflict in Gaza. The European Union has already publicly warned X for failing to stop the dissemination of illegal content and disinformation after the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel. Under the EU’s Digital Service Act, the onus is on large online platforms like X to mitigate “risks to public security” stemming from disinformation. Graphic content purporting to be footage of the violent conflict continues to go viral, despite experts debunking the posts as doctored, fictional or from previous incidents in other regions.
While X spent this week censoring *** workers, other blue check accounts — verified through X Premium — have been driving misinformation about the conflict with little to no consequences.
In his daily threads calling out misinformation on X, BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh consistently debunks claims made by verified accounts, including one who falsely stated that Hamas had launched an airstrike on Israel. The video that the verified account posted was a clip from the video game “Arma 3.”
This video certainly doesn’t show a new air assault on Israel by Hamas militants, because it’s actually from the video game Arma 3. pic.twitter.com/IcX7xs8QDp
— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) October 9, 2023
Alleria warned that banning ***, which is already under scrutiny by government agencies and banned in multiple states, is a “slippery slope” to targeting LGBTQ communities. Porn bans will eventually affect everyone, she said, if governments are granted the power to decide what media consenting adults are allowed to share.
Mistress Alexxxia, an adult content creator, described the increased censorship of *** workers as “digital discrimination.” In a thread about X’s hostility toward NSFW content, she criticized Musk as the “absolute antithesis of free speech.”
“SWers are the guinea pigs used in [the] changing of policy and access to information because the general population doesn’t care or straight up hates us,” she wrote. “*Your* rights vanish next.”
Alleria said she’ll keep paying for X Premium, even if reluctantly, as long as she can still post links to adult sites. Although she’s considered pivoting to Reddit or Bluesky to promote her services, she’s “not giving up on this site yet.”
“I mean Elon is unpredictable. Anything is possible with him,” Alleria said. “But unless he targets posting links to adult content, I’m not worried. Adult content creators adapt.”