Patreon Yaoi Underage Porn Ban

Lucid

Why did Patreon flag gay content as ‘underage’ porn?

Adult artists say their relationship with Patreon is increasingly strained.

Jul 15, 2020, 1:21 pm*

Internet Culture

Ana Valens 

Ana Valens

Four months after adult content creators revealed Patreon was removing anime porn artists, artists say the site is taking another step forward in chilling adult speech. Three adult content artists told the Daily Dot that select words triggered automated messages warning that their posts may violate the site’s rules. One message reviewed by the Daily Dot equated “yaoi,” or homoerotic anime artwork depicting men, with “underage” porn.

On July 13, boys’ love comics illustrator Lucid tweeted that Patreon “has started handing out warnings if you mention ‘yaoi’ in an image post.” The warning, which Lucid sent to the Daily Dot, states that Patreon “doesn’t allow the featuring of seemingly underage characters in the context of adult content” and encourages users to look at the site’s Community Guidelines before posting.

Lucid calls the flag “insulting” and detrimental to her business, given her website URL is “yaoi.biz.” “Even if I wanted to never be associated with ‘yaoi,’ it is impossible for me since I have a very anime/manga inspired style,” she wrote.

After emailing Patreon, Lucid tweeted that the site “basically [brushed her] off” and told her to “disregard” the “underage warning for using ‘yaoi’ in a post.” She then asked the site to apply the warning “to all 18+ posts or none at all,” and implied in a tweet she may seek out legal representation for the site’s “discriminatory bullshit” if it does not comply.

“Does anyone know a yaoi lawyer,” Lucid tweeted, “asking… for a friend.”

Patreon’s “yaoi” warning mirrors its strict policy on anime porn, which veers toward banning content that appears to depict underage characters, especially women. That ban has since been criticized by Asian writers as “xenophobic,” “euro-centric,” and “linked to white people’s inability to tell East Asian people’s age,” as the Daily Dot previously reported.

Lucid told the Daily Dot she isn’t sure if she would have “real claim to legal action” until she speaks to a lawyer, but she said flagging the keyword is racist and homophobic.

“It’s kind of tricky because Patreon doesn’t actually stop you from posting [with ‘yaoi’ in the headline], they just belittle you with passive-aggressive warnings,” she told the Daily Dot. “‘I’d really prefer to not get a lawyer involved since y’know, I’d like to just focus on making the content. But Patreon takes a solid 10k a year of my earnings, and me and other ‘niche’ adult content creators don’t deserve to be treated this way for how much they get to dip into our earnings.”

It’s unclear if Lucid would be able to successfully sue Patreon for discrimination, although she may have ammunition for the claim. In 2018, Patreon began censoring all-ages and teen-friendly LGBTQ creators by flagging material “adult content.”

Meanwhile, the site has a complicated and increasingly antagonistic relationship with adult creators. After purging sex workers from the platform in 2017, Patreon began banning hypnosis porn, forced transformation content, certain furry porn, and some anime porn. The site has also policed creators based on work posted outside of Patreon, a move that one adult industry member called “an egregious overstepping of [Patreon’s] authority and a blatant privacy violation.”

Lucid said the terms “cum” and “porn” also got warnings from Patreon, though in less specific terms than the site’s “yaoi” warning. Other artists have faced similar experiences. On July 13, popular U.K.-based furry artist Scifijackrabbit tweeted a photo of his July 2020 patron sketch post called “Minx Deepthroat.” Under the post, a message warned Scifijackrabbit that his material may violate the site’s rules. The warning disappeared after he pulled the term “deepthroat” from the title.

“This post may be outside of our Community Guidelines regarding pornographic content,” Patreon said, according to his Twitter. “Please take a moment to consult our guidelines and if you have questions about this, reach out to our Trust & Safety team at [email protected]

Scifijackrabbit criticized the message and argued that it makes little sense to track and flag words used by adult artists who run adults-only Patreons.

“I typed the word ‘deepthroat’ on a post and apparently that goes against community guidelines even if the art depicts a consensual act,” he tweeted. “What is the point of even ticking a box confirming you make adult content on this site? If Patreon is going to be this anal about adult content they might as well just ban it outright. Make up your fucking minds. If it all goes tits up y’all can find me on Pixiv, Fanbox… even considering Subscribestar.”

https://twitter.com/SCIFIJACKRABBIT/status/1282765631989915648

Neither Scifijackrabbit nor Patreon immediately responded to the Daily Dot’s requests for comment.

Diesel, an adult artist with over 200 patrons, told the Daily Dot that Patreon flagged her posts that used the word “cumshot” with the same message about community guidelines. Similar words, such as “cumblast” and “fuck,” did not receive a warning.

“All last month I was posting [works in progress] of a project that I was titling ‘[character name] cumshot WIP,’ and damn near every time I got that same message at the bottom of the screen. However I should note, I was still able to make those posts,” Diesel told the Daily Dot. “Patreon didn’t like, stop me from posting it […] nor was patron engagement on those posts affected as far as I can tell.”

Diesel said she hopes the message from Patreon is just a blanket warning reminding artists to paywall their 18+ posts, although she’s skeptical about her future with Patreon.

“I’ve been looking into branching out my sources of crowdsourced income recently,” she said. “I’m concerned about censoring NSFW content on Patreon, but I’m also concerned about that on literally every website.”

Diesel provided the Daily Dot with an image confirming that headlines with “cumshot” set off the same warning message.

Still, Lucid said, censorship problems don’t start and stop with Patreon; they’re just part of the “terrible, terrible game” that adult creators “play with capitalism on the daily.”

“Adult content creators are the only reason Patreon got off the ground in the first place,” Lucid told the Daily Dot. “Now that they’re getting more ‘mainstream’ content creators they feel like they can crack down on the marginalized creators that helped them get there. It’s infuriating, really.”

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*First Published: Jul 15, 2020, 1:13 pm