Bramblefix Twitter NSFW Ban

Bramble

Lesbian porn artist’s Twitter suspension raises new fears for NSFW creators

'Twitter really doesn't protect anyone in my field.'

Jan 8, 2020, 5:36 pm*

IRL

Ana Valens 

Ana Valens

Adult artist @Bramblefix is one of the most popular queer porn creators on Twitter, particularly among queer cis and trans women who enjoy her lesbian porn illustrations. But in late December, Bramble suddenly stopped posting on Twitter. Two weeks later, she returned, revealing she was permanently suspended for violating the site’s “rules against graphic violence or adult content” through her profile’s header image.

The banner in question shows two women blushing, and one has a bare breast but no nipples are showing. Based on the crop, it’s unclear what action is taking place. The full version is a masturbation scene.

“If you have a suggestive banner, PLEASE CHANGE IT—this was the banner that earned me a permanent suspension,” Bramblefix tweeted on Jan. 5. “Maybe I’m stupid but I thought twitter’s NSFW policy meant no explicit nudity in your profile, but it’s really vague, and too much titty could get your account banned.”

 

Bramble appealed the decision twice and was rejected both times for “violating Twitter’s Terms of Service” regarding “hateful or sensitive content in your profile,” according to emails Bramble shared with the Daily Dot. Then, after the third appeal, Twitter said Bramble’s account “does not appear to be in violation of the Twitter Rules” after all, and the permanent suspension was reversed.

“[A]t first I didn’t even realize it WAS a permanent suspension, the email was so, so vague about the suspension and what it was for it was only when my first appeal got rejected I even realized it WAS permanent,” Bramble told the Daily Dot. “It took a few days for me to actually start worrying.”

Twitter’s safety team is notorious for its vague moderation policies, but Bramble largely avoided these problems. In September, she was temporarily locked out of her account after uploading a header image with erotic depictions of bare breasts, but she said the situation was “swept up very quickly.” In comparison, Bramble’s December suspension left her in the dark about her business’ future on Twitter.

“Twitter really doesn’t protect anyone in my field, it truly sucks,” Bramble said. “Not just artists, but anyone creating any kind of queer erotica, writers and sex workers and all. This whole suspension business made me realize that social media is just hell for us right now. We get deplatformed in an instant, and we get harassed like crazy, and it really seems disproportionate against queer creators especially.”

 

Last month, Twitter updated its terms of service, leading many users to discover Twitter’s revised “sensitive media” policy from mid-2019. Many adult creators and sex workers did not realize the policy was already in place, and amid a new clause granting Twitter the right to shadowban in all but name, Twitter did little to curtail panic over a potential Twitter NSFW ban.

“[T]he misinformation was really running rampant there for a while, and still is even,” Bramble said. “It’s just that the [terms of service] is SO vague about what is or is not considered NSFW, it makes it very hard to know sometimes what is OK and what’s not. Even now, since the email Twitter sent about being unsuspended basically says, ‘hey, you didn’t break any rules after all!’ I’m still left totally confused about what’s against [the rules].”

Bramblefix Twitter Lesbian Porn Art

Bramble isn’t the only queer adult Twitter user impacted by the site’s vague profile header rules. Kyle “Aphyr” Kingsbury, a computer safety researcher and member of the queer leather community, faced a 12-day Twitter suspension for having a picture of his bare rear in his Twitter profile header. Aphyr’s account was only reinstated after “extended public complaint and 4+ Twitter employees working on my behalf,” he told followers, explaining the experience was “consistent” with previous suspensions.

“Social media moderation requires unprecedented scale. Algorithmic methods help, but so much moderation needs precious human attention. Platforms prioritize by only evaluating what gets flagged for review—which leads to uneven enforcement,” Aphyr wrote. “Some neighborhoods go unpoliced.”

 

Aphyr imagines SESTA-FOSTA, advertising partners’ policies, App Store rules, and payment processors’ policies may factor into Twitter’s adult content rules, but he says it’s equally as likely that policies are “a reflection of complicated internal politics” or “games of telephone.” Aphyr has since left Twitter and set up a Mastodon instance on the Fediverse called woof.group for the LGBTQ leather community, and he encourages marginalized users to run their own online spaces as an alternative to relying on a “global corporate [social media] platform” like Twitter.

“I wish we had better insight into why these policies are happening,” Aphyr told the Daily Dot. “Twitter’s email to me said it was so people felt safe, which felt hilarious. Who felt unsafe ’cause they saw [someone’s] butt on an exercise ball!”

In the meantime, Aphyr thinks Twitter will “become more rigorous in its policing over time” because organizations generally “accrete structure over time,” which can be seen in other social media platforms like Facebook. Bramble feels the same way, saying she “wouldn’t be surprised” if Twitter outright institutes its own NSFW ban in the near future.

“At first I was thinking of [the suspension] like a nice break, but that was shattered when my first appeal got rejected. I cried a ton,” Bramble said. “It was just so incredibly distressing to think of losing that audience, which I’d worked so hard to build up for the past year, since getting removed from Tumblr. It felt just incredibly unfair.”

The Daily Dot reached out to Twitter for comment and is awaiting a response.

Update 5:13pm CT, Jan. 8: Regarding Bramble and Aphyr’s suspensions, a Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Dot that, “We try our best to get it right the first time but sometimes we make mistakes and we work to fix these as quickly as possible.”

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*First Published: Jan 8, 2020, 4:43 pm