Are liberals finally waking up to the internet pornography pandemic?
Two cheers to the New York Times, which recently published an incredibly disturbing and eye-opening feature by Nicholas Kristof, “The Children of Pornhub”, which produced some hand-wringing from some major credit-card companies. Who knows whether the self-examination is sincere, or merely a perfunctory statement till the storm passes over.
Last week the lewd media platform OnlyFans announced that it was banning “sexually explicit” material from its platform, only to reverse its decision a day later. In Monday’s New York Times feminist law professor Catharine MacKinnon roasts them, telling the ugly truth about the reality of so-called “sex work.” Whether this moment can turn into a movement is up to us.
I recently made my own effort to deal with this issue when I accidentally stumbled across a podcast entitled “XXX audio.” (I was looking for podcasts for a family trip, and my kids had told me there were some available on Spotify). Well, that title caught my attention, especially since Spotify advertises that its “Family Account,” which we subscribe to, offers an “explicit material” filter for parents, which I had on all of my devices. I scrolled down and noticed titles like “Strapmother Penetration.”
I listened with shock as it described how a stepson and his friend tie his stepmother to the bed and rape her. There are other shocking things available on this side of the parent filter. I immediately contacted Spotify about this. The conversation was so bad as to be almost comic. I made a copy of the transcript for anyone who is interested.
First, they wanted specific details of the objectionable material, including the “timestamp.” (I had to look that one up). OK. Boys tie up and rape stepmom. Bad enough? They then told me that the “filter” is self-regulated by the providers. So I asked whether there is any process inside Spotify for reviewing providers who are misreporting? They could not and would not affirm whether there is such a process.
I asked to be bumped up to a supervisor. The supervisor could not and would not assure me that there was any process in Spotify for filtering explicit material. I gently told the supervisor in no uncertain terms that this is false advertising to the parents who are using the Spotify Family Plan and think they are getting a safe product, and that I would publish our conversation. I invited him to think again and try to answer my question. He doubled down, and told me that someone at Spotify would contact me very quickly about this matter.
It’s been two weeks, and no answer. Moreover, the material is still up and available.
If you want to do your part to make this “moment” against a culture of sexual exploitation into a “movement,” please circulate this story to anyone you know and encourage them to boycott Spotify.
Nathan Schlueter is a professor of philosophy and religion.