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Exploring Pornostagram, the NSFW version of Instagram

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While there are some photos on Instagram that could be classified as breaches of morality and good taste—think hot dog leg or funeral selfies—none of the images on Instagram actually qualify as pornographic. But like most social sharing platforms, Instagram restricts nudity and sexually explicit content, so if you ever want to post your best sepia-tinted NSFW pic, you’re unfortunately out of luck.

That’s why Quentin Lechemia has created Pornostagram, the aptly titled XXX Instagram-inspired app available for Android. Much like its PG inspiration, Pornostagram allows users to upload photos, edit them, apply one of 15 filters, and share them with their followers. Unlike Instagram, however, there are no restrictions on adult-themed content, meaning users are free to upload as many artsy black-and-white dick selfies as they wish.

A French Web developer, Lechemia launched Pornostagram last July to fill what he sees as Instagram users’ demand to post and share their own naughty pics on a non-judgmental, non-restrictive platform. With more than 10,000 members and an average of 53,600 monthly unique visitors, Pornostagram is small, but growing: It’s been touted as Europe’s most popular adult social network, and has received coverage in French Vice and Gizmodo.

“With my different girlfriends we used to send sexy text[s] and pics to each other and I noticed that in a way or another, no matter your age or gender, you’re always a bit ashamed to do so,” Lechemia told the Daily Dot via email. “And I thought maybe to allow people to upload pics to an app and to apply filters to them could lessen the shame felt.”

Given how incredibly easy it is to find and upload amateur porn on the Internet, you might wonder if there’s actually a need for image-based apps like Pornostogram. Particularly because it’s not free: Mobile users are limited to five minutes of access, and a premium subscription costs $3.90 a month (a meager fee, to be sure, but any price is too low for porn fans accustomed to watching hours of free streaming video on tube sites).

It’s also debatable whether Instagram users are actually all that interested in sharing sexy pictures of themselves. Pornostagram marketing director Romy Roynard says that while she doesn’t expect Instagram devotees to gravitate to the platform, “we simply think users should be able to post and share nude pics or sexually explicit content if they want to. By creating this app, we’ve finally given this choice to the users.”


Although Lechemia says Pornostagram is the only app on the market that allows users to apply Instagram-like filters to their content, it’s actually one of many apps that have attempted to capitalize on the burgeoning phenomenon of social porn, which has been heralded as the future of the adult industry. While there are a multitude of NSFW social spinoffs on the market, such as the Facebook-inspired Fuckbook and the Pinterest-inspired Pinsex and Snatchly.

Yet few have managed to find a significant audience (though it should be mentioned Pornostagram has seen impressive usership), in part due to the obvious social stigma attached to sharing one’s pornographic tastes in a social media setting, and in part due to the tech community’s resistance to platforms like Pornostagram, which welcome sexually explicit user-generated content.

“All of the dynamics that make Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. so successful are dynamics that actually can be leveraged in the whole area of self-expression and self-identification through sexuality,” says Cindy Gallop, who runs the website Make Love Not Porn (SFW) and has been instrumental in the efforts to “make real-world sex socially acceptable and socially shareable.”

“The tech world is refusing to allow that. It’s ghettoizing [user-generated sexual content] and bracketing it mistakenly into porn... there’s this artificial distinction.”

Despite its name, Pornostagram’s users are not primarily involved in the porn industry. While Lechemia and Roynard say there are a handful of European adult industry performers who have profiles on the platform, most of its users are amateurs, 19 percent of which are couples.That’s not to say that the women on Pornostagram don’t adhere to a specific, suspiciously non-amateur-looking body type: A quick glimpse reveals that most of the bodies on display are white, thin, cisgendered, and voluptuous, which is closer to the image of the ideal adult film star than the average Instagrammer.  

In truth, while Pornostagram’s creators’ intentions to create a world where people are free to upload the sexy content of their choosing, I wonder if the creation of a porn Instagram is actually more socially progressive than an Instagram that allows nudity and sexually themed images on its own platform. While Roynard is correct that users should certainly have a venue for hosting explicit content if they so desire, Pornostagram seems less like a revolutionary social network and more like just another porn site in the XXX tech “ghetto.”

So is the future of social porn in apps like Pornostagram and its ilk? Perhaps, but Gallop thinks the answer lies in preexisting social networks like Facebook and Instagram adopting more tolerant attitudes toward their users’ sexuality, thus eliminating the need for a Pornostagram to begin with.

“I applaud Pornostagram for what they’re trying to do, but I think it’s a huge shame there has to be a Pornostagram in the first place,” Gallop says. “What they’re doing should be accepted on Instagram, because it’s a huge compliment to any social media community when that community feels comfortable enough to explore and self-identify sexually.”

Photo by Heather/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY NC - SA 2.0)