We all know the phrase: “Sex sells.” However, if those who “sold” their
bodies used to be actors in the entertainment business, today, new
streaming platforms allow anyone to do the same.
Thanks to the internet and online platforms, that “moment of fame” isn’t
something that comes along eventually… rather, it’s created! Twitch and
Onlyfans are two platforms that aid in this change of pace.
What makes them different from other platforms of the same nature?
Onlyfans and Ttwich: Pornography at the Click of a Mouse
Twitch and Onlyfans began as simple portals for content sharing and
Twitch is a free live-streaming portal that offers premium subscriptions,
which are mainly used by gamers. In 2021, the site had 30 million daily
visitors and over 9.5 million active streamers on the platform at any given
Onlyfans came about in 2016 as a portal where people pay for content
(photos, videos, and live streaming) with a monthly subscription. It was a
sort of personalized pay-per-view that, through a membership, allows
creators and influencers to monetize their profession.
Recently, sexual and violent content has been available on both portals.
This sort of content was then banned by behavioral and copyright laws;
however, it still contributed to the growing popularity of both platforms.
But what’s wrong with selling your body?
Legally nothing at all, if you are of age and fully aware and freely
choosing to do so. Morally, that is, from a human point of view, it is
Today, everyone has easy access to pornography thanks to the internet. The
major sites that collect pornographic content ask for a simple
self-declaration that the viewer is an adult, thus granting access to a
gallery of millions of videos of countless “genres.”
However, the concerns that platforms like Twitch and Onlyfans raise are not
so much related to the facilitated access to pornography (which can be said
of all social networks), but to the possibility that they offer minors to
sell themselves online.
A BBC documentary, #Nudes4Sale, analyzed the increase in
sales of explicit sexual content by young people under the age of 18,
showing that a large number of underage “creators” use social media and
streaming platforms to sell nudes in exchange for money and gifts.
Another disturbing factor is that, despite the platforms’ attempt to censor
certain types of content, they don’t always succeed in doing so.
Furthermore, often, while they proceed to file reports, they fail to
promptly stop some users from recreating, time after time, a new
channel/account using new credentials.
Human control fails to monitor all of the content produced and published
every day on these platforms, and copyright violations on these channels
are handled by artificial intelligence algorithms that, as sophisticated as
they are, can be easily circumvented.
Simply put: underage users manage to create their accounts by circumventing
the platforms’ security checks, and the platforms have difficulty detecting
users who circumvent these rules despite numerous integrations and
Sex, social networks, and easy money
Young people’s relationship with their sexuality has already been greatly
disrupted with the advent of the internet, and it seems even more relevant
to analyze it by looking at just last year alone.
According to figures in the Global Digital Report 2020, during the Covid-19
lockdown, people dramatically intensified not only their relationship with
digital devices but also with pornography. There was a spike in downloads
for popular dating apps, and sexting became increasingly common.
These phenomena are intensified by social distancing and are also part of
the new way young people enter into relationships and experience sexuality.
Behind a screen, inhibitions are lowered – there is a sort of filter. Let’s
consider sexting: a person can try over and over to get the perfect shot,
modify it, and finally send it.
But what pushes a minor to sell an image of himself/herself
online? It’s like asking: why do they do drugs? Or… why do they start
smoking? They are all harmful behaviors, but the consequences are often not
seen until years later.
The adolescent phase is one of the most critical. It’s the middle ground
just before adulthood, full of uncertainty and seeking approval. Likes, followers, shares… little substance, few memories, but
many followers and “Instagrammable photos…”. Lots of sex – but little love.
At this point, it’s so easy to take just one small step in the direction of
selling images of one’s body, since it is apparently so easy to do. They
might think, “Anyway, what’s the worst that could happen?” – not caring
about the risks that the uncontrolled sharing of personal images/videos can
bring the possibility of “revenge porn” and even child pornography. The
only thing they see is easy money.
Maybe, instead of constantly looking at our phones’ battery level, we
should all start paying more attention to the people around us that we
love. How can we protect teenagers from the risk of child pornography if we
don’t first re-educate them to look each other in the eye?