Why Mastodon is our Best Chance as Adult Content Creators

Photo of a mammoth or elephant head in profile
Photo by April Pethybridge / Unsplash

This story begins with what is known as the Tumblr Purge. Tumblr was a place where the NSFW and the SFW lived side by side in harmony. Until FOSTA-SESTA became law on 11 April 2018 upon which Tumblr booted its entire NSFW user base. Since then, the ice has grown thinner for adult content creators on the internet. While it used to be possible to be a sex worker on Instagram in the platform's early days, this seems absolutely unthinkable now. On 19 August 2021 the OnlyFans scandal hit, the announcement by a site that had been popularised by sex workers and was basically synonymous with adult content, to ban sexually explicit content. Even OnlyFans decided to kick the sex workers who had made them big to the curb. I remember how I felt when I first read the news. I couldn't believe it. I saw countless jeering tweets about the sex workers of OnlyFans having to "get a real job now". I felt rage. But most of all, I felt despair. I was not on OnlyFans, the ban didn't affect me directly. It is always the sex workers and pornography getting the boot first. Then it's kink and LGBTQ. As a writer, I can fly under the radar for a long time when my erotic model and visual artist colleagues have already been forced to censor their work or leave entirely. But I don't want to get by living in the shadows. That day marked a change in my perception of the internet. I was there at the turn of the millenium when the internet was a Wild West of sorts.

A 20+ year old meme on this blog? Just as likely as you think.

It was a far cry from the walled and guarded gardens we have today, built by big tech. I watched personal websites and forums give way to corporate social media, the quirky fansites and geeky niche topics flowing into the mainstream. I saw mostly a shift, not Mount Doom. But when a platform synonymous with porn felt the need to denounce their most well-known creator base, it completely shattered my perception of a "free" internet. In my grief and anger I did some digging, looking for answers. It turned out that an organisation of Christian extremists had tried to attack OnlyFans in the same way they had successfully targeted Pornhub in 2020. Pornhub was subsequently cut off from payment providers like Mastercard and Visa and therefore accepts only cryptocurrency. OnlyFans, it seems, faced similar pressure from their business partner Mastercard.

I'm getting to the point, I promise!

I had been planning on getting a self-hosted website since blogging platform Over-blog.com deleted my old one over a sudden ban of adult content. But OnlyFans drove the point home that you really have to have your own place where nobody can kick you out over a change of policy. If you're still with me, this is what this whole story has to do with Mastodon. Two things are very important:

  1. Mastodon is not reliant on ad revenue or payment providers. For this reason, it doesn't have to bow to Mastercard and other payment processors.
  2. Mastodon can be self-hosted and therefore it is impossible to be kicked off the platform entirely.

The second thing comes with a huge disclaimer because other servers can defederate from yours, which is what happened to the NAZI server gap. So it could technically happen that you get blocked by many other instances. Some of the larger ones do this if pornography is posted globally without content warning. But it is very unlikely you'd get banned wholesale for adult content. Especially since many instances are hosted in Europe where there are much more reasonable laws as to what counts as pornography (i.e. not Michelangelo's David).

Crotch shot of Michelangelo's David sculpture.
Putting David's crotch here because this is my site and I fucking can.

But what about Switter?

Switter was a sex worker instance of Mastodon that was ultimately shut down because it didn't comply with Australian law where the server was hosted. The instance had been founded by Assembly Four, a collective of sex workers and technologists based in Naarm, Australia.

Switter was created as a sex-work-friendly alternative to mainstream social media in response to the (still ongoing) effects of FOSTA-SESTA and the shadow banning of many workers' accounts. It was a space open to anyone involved in the sex industry, where sex workers chatted to fans and each other, released new shoots, announced web streams, and whatever else they would like to share. It was a safe space unaffected by the policies of mainstream platforms because anyone can run the Mastodon software on their own server and make their own rules.

Unfortunately, that doesn't protect the site from local law. Unlike the United States of America, online platforms in Australia are not protected from liability for third-party uploads.

The definite shutdown of Switter occurred on 14 March 2022. All data was deleted at 11:45 PM Australian Eastern Daylight Time.

FOSTA-SESTA has been proven ineffective at stopping sex trafficking. But it has achieved what it really set out to do: deplatforming even remotely sexual content.

Switter was one of the last remaining spaces that allowed adults to be adults on the internet. But we can build such a space again. That is the beauty of Mastodon: when one server closes, it really is just that one server, not the whole network.

One 18+ Mastodon server going belly-up while the rest keeps operating. Adapted from fedi.tips.


Patreon has a history of eroding the kind of sexual content they allow, which is why I built this website where you can support me directly in case Patreon kicks NSFW creators out for good.

Patreon has courted erotic content creators in the past before cracking down on adult content in 2017, citing pressure from payment processors. While straight up porn was never allowed on the platform, Patreon's community guidelines used to be more lenient, allowing some flexibility for adult creators, but with the new guidelines, the business model previously recommended by Patreon was officially banned:

“Lastly, you cannot sell pornographic material or arrange sexual service(s) as a reward for your patrons. You can’t use Patreon to raise funds in order to produce pornographic material such as maintaining a website, funding the production of movies, or providing a private webcam session.”

As always, sex workers are the first to be kicked to the curb. But they won't be the last.

Patreon just updated their community guidelines again, in March 2024, to explicitly ban what is known as "taboo" genres in erotica: non-consensual sex where Patreon includes consensual non-consent as if it's the same thing, zoophilia, incest and the step-family work-around but Game of Thrones would get a pass, and age play like i.e. adult baby fetishism. These bans don't just affect photos and videos of real humans but written and drawn art as well. My Patreon page is marked as "adult" but I did not get notified about these changes so I only found out from the press. Obviously the Greek gods are all related so a good chunk of my stories could be banned according to these new guidelines, even though I personally don't consider it incest erotica. Demeter and Minthe could be a goner as well, as no consent is given by Minthe. Patreon is a bit fuzzy on whether or not sex between humans and mythological creatures that don't exist in the real world are fair game because they only explicitly allow "same-species sexual interaction between fictional or mythological creatures" as long as there is no "glorification of animal genitals", whatever that means. So Herakles and the Cyprian Centaur is probably no longer allowed either.

I will not delete the stories that don't comply with these new guidelines from my Patreon as long as they don't make me but be aware that they could disappear any moment. All patrons get a membership account on my website, so you should still be able to read these stories, just off Patreon.

Sketch of Dionysos and Hermes, who are typically half-brothers in Greek mythology, engaging in some grapevine bondage. Beautiful work by my illustrator Sinita.


Gumroad, an e-commerce platform where creators can sell digital and physical products directly to their audience, is just the latest online space to fall in the war on porn. In their list of prohibited products, entry number 8 states:

sexually-oriented or pornographic content (including but not limited to adult books or video, adult telephone conversations or audio, membership to adult websites or content, companion or escort services, dating services, mail-order brides, massage parlors and prostitution, or content of any format that features characters who are minors, are depicted as minors, or are suggested to be minors in any sexual or sensual context)

So Gumroad goes all the way and flat out bans all "sexually-oriented content", leaving NSFW creators only 24 hours to find a new platform or risk getting shut down.

JustFor.Fans, an adult blogging platform where you can buy photos and clips of adult performers as well as monthly subscriptions, opened their arms to invite Gumroad's NSFW creators to their site:

Screenshot of JustForFans' tweet inviting Gumroad NSFW artists to their site, 15 March 2024

Which is a smart move on their part. But at the moment, JustForFans is optimised for pornography, meaning their rules are written with human models in mind rather than drawn or written art. And that excludes a whole lot of taboo fetishes like scat and watersports but also subjects that are common in non-pornographic adult works such as weapons, blood, or drugs including alcohol.

It's something that is likely to be resolved fairly easily, as rules for pornography with human models are usually stricter than for drawn or written fiction. But for now, NSFW creators are struggling yet again.

TL; DR: Conclusion

Big tech courts adult creators while they are growing. Once a critical mass is reached, sex workers are the first to be shadow banned or outright banned from the platform they made popular. After the sex workers it's fetish artists and writers of taboo erotica who get booted off next. Then all sexually explicit material gotta go. As my Mastodon mutual Bacchus from erosblog.com writes:

The pornocalypse comes for us all.

With payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, Mastercard and Visa cited as the reason by many of the platforms banning adult content, advertisers being the other common source of pornophobia, it's the financial sector dictating what adults can and cannot buy and sell. And that is why we need decentralised solutions that are not controlled by just very few people. Cryptocurrency is not a viable solution for a variety of reasons. But normal bank transfers are. Within Europe, SEPA simplifies transactions, and multi-currency accounts can save on conversion fees when trading with non-European clients. What I'm trying to say is that there are solutions, even if they're not as quick and convenient as entering a credit card number.

Mastodon is similar compared to the walled garden social media sites of Big Tech. It's not as quick and convenient as a single site, it's not geared towards creators at all, and you'll find more hostile attitudes against self-promotion than on other sites. But you get pretty effective tools to silence harassers, no shadow-banning for posting nudes, and a diversity of rules that allow you to pick one that fits with the type of creations you want to promote. If Gumroad were a Mastodon server, NSFW artists could just move to a different one that allows sexually explicit material while taking all their followers with them. We need more places where NSFW and SFW can exist side by side again.

Special thanks to my patrons who are a kinky, horny gang of pure joy and allow me to spend my time writing and researching. I wish I could have written about a happier topic today but alas, the world insists on being a shithole.

A big shoutout to Bacchus from erosblog.com for documenting the pornocalypse for literal decades. Follow him here for sex blogging and insightful commentary on news from the kinkosphere.



Switter's Twitter account

Assembly Four's public statement on shutting down Switter

Switter closure - A note to users, assemblyfour.com

Cloudflare and FOSTA/SESTA, assemblyfour.com

Switter, the Twitter for Sex Workers, Is Shutting Down, vice.com


Digital ID age verification trials for online alcohol purchases in Australia underway, zdnet.com

Open Letter to Patreon, archive.org

Patreon to roll out tools to help its adult creators meet Mastercard’s new standards, techcrunch.com (22 September 2021)

Patreon's community guidelines (archived 16 March 2024)


Gumroad no longer allows most NSFW art, leaving its adult creators panicked by
Amanda Silberling, techcrunch.com
(15 March 2024)

JustForFans' tweet inviting Gumroad's NSFW artists (15 March 2024)

JustForFans Prohibited Content (15 March 2024)

JustFor.Fans Review: Does it work? by Sofa Gray, sofiagray.com (5 September 2022)


Why “Go Nuts, Show Nuts” Doesn’t Work in 2022 by Matt Mullenweg, tumblr.com (September 2022)

Did Tumblr Blink And Un-Pornocalypse? TLDR: No, erosblog.com (04 November 2022)


Where are we all going? It’s Mastodon right? by Girl on the Net

Mastodon is easy and fun except when it isn’t by Erin Kissane

Sarah Burstein's Mastodon post quoting Cory Doctorow, mastodon.social, 7 August 2023

Fool Me Twice We Don’t Get Fooled Again: There’s a crucial difference between federatable and federated. by Cory Doctorow, medium.com, 6 August 2023


The Payment Processors vs. Porn by Lux Alptraum and Erika Moen, thenib.com, 22 November 2021

More Twitter Pornocalypse Incoming by Bacchus, erosblog.com, 24 January 2021

The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All by Bacchus, erosblog.com, 1 May 2013

Prohibited Content Policy, justfor.fans, 17 March 2024

This did not fit within the scope of this article but the collection and storage of identity information is just another can of worms connected to the sale and purchase of adult goods and services. A government issued ID is made mandatory for age assurance, despite the evidence that suggests this will increase harm against marginalised communities, not to mention the data privacy nightmare this entails. Previous attempts to collect identification information for the purpose of preventing access to pornograpahy such as the Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill 2021 and the UK’s Online Safety Bill 2021 attempt to deanonymise or decloak users by stealth under the guise of online safety but they're just surveillance and censorship in a trench coat.

I am OK with proving to Patreon that I am a legal adult. I'm not OK with some third party service provider storing my personal ID information, the most sensitive data there is, when all they should need to store is that I am an over 18 years of age.