News broke last month that Tumblr’s owner, Verizon, was looking to sell it. In response, the online porn company Pornhub swiftly inserted itself into the media fray by releasing a statement that it was “extremely interested” in purchasing Tumblr and that it wanted to restore the site as one welcome to porn and adult-content creators; Tumblr made headlines and was roundly criticized last year for its decision to ban all porn and NSFW content from the platform. The ban essentially destroyed the online livelihoods of sex workers who had created adult content on Tumblr as well as flagged and banned discussions surrounding LGBTQ+ issues and art containing nudity.

Many celebrated the news as the perfect pairing to ameliorate Tumblr’s porn ban, touting Pornhub’s brand of sex positivity that it has carefully crafted through its witty social justice-themed tweets and marketing about sex workers and sex positivity. However, Pornhub’s stated interest in Tumblr, when contrasted with its history of criticism from porn actors for its piracy of porn content and poor business practices, raises questions about disconnects between the company’s pro-porn actor marketing and its business practices. Ultimately, this speaks to how Pornhub co-opts online social-justice discourse in their marketing and branding only to act against those same ideals in their actual business practices.

Pornhub’s statement, first published by BuzzFeed, reinforced its pro-porn creators branding for which its online marketing has become known. Pornhub Vice President Corey Price expressed “dismay” at Tumblr’s porn ban and its efforts “to eradicate erotic communities on the platform, leaving many individuals without an asylum.”

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If PornHub wants to support a cause, start with Sex Workers rights by Muqing M. Zhang

June 20th, 2019