Read the full article by Thomas McMullan at Medium.com

June 2018, Patreon told Vex Ashley that it was effectively shutting down her page. Ashley’s independent pornography project, Four Chambers, had been on the funding site for a number of years, and the income it provided was her livelihood — and paid for the labor of her performers.

The shutdown was part of a wider flurry of suspensions toward adult creators on the platform. Patreon explained at the time that it had ramped up a “proactive review of content” due to pressures from “payment partners.” 

Ashley suggests there may be another, more nebulous driver behind this new online prudishness: the evolving business of big tech. “When Instagram started, it was about photographers,” she tells me. “It was about sharing work visually, and a lot of artists flocked there. Now, your mum has Instagram, your teenage nephew has Instagram. They want to be sites where everyone exists, and what that means is the content has to be acceptable to the lowest common denominator.”

Ashley adds, “Porn is part of a bigger fight between what the ideals of the internet were and what they mean now. The internet is now totally defined by brands and consumerism.”

Between the demands of premium advertisers and the review guidelines of gatekeepers such as Apple’s App Store, makers of sexually explicit content are finding fewer and fewer places to call home. “[The internet is] isolating independent producers in a way that wasn’t the case five years ago,” Ashley says. “There used to be avenues to share work, and it did feel like there was a way to build a community around people who were doing things differently. It now feels very much like it’s either the tube sites or nothing.”