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Opinion: Stop Making Adults Follow Children’s Rules
The internet is a funny place. For a while, it looked like we were heading for the golden age of the internet where there was enough real estate to go around. The influencers have Instagram. The nerds have Reddit. The nazis have Facebook. Even movies started to have enough in circulation that you could have a love story about a mute lady and her river-god-boyfriend.
And then, suddenly, it all snapped back.
I’m of course, responding to two news stories about censorship. One has to do with Sony’s ridiculous justification for censoring adult content on its console, and the other with Tumblr essentially telling its userbase it doesn’t want anyone old enough to read the fine print on it’s website.
I’ll start off this rant by addressing the obvious- I fully acknowledge that both Sony and Tumblr are allowed to do whatever the hell they want with their services. Sure. Fine. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re immune to criticism for their decision, of which this is.
Both Tumblr and Sony have spoken to the tune of “for the kids” when referring to their move against the adult community.
“Regarding the regulation of the depiction of content, it’s simply a matter of matching global standards.
As for the freedom of expression… we have to think about what might be unpleasant for children and shield them from those things while also thinking and assessing ways to find a balance [for that expression]- Sony CEO Atsushi Morita
There’s not much to unpack here. Sony CEO Atsushi Morita says that they’re simply looking out for children who use their service. After all, who wants their child to be hit in the face by a rogue anime tiddy while playing Little Big Planet?
If only there was… some kind of system that gauged an appropriate age to play a game… based on the type of content in the game. But that wouldn’t work, obviously, because there’s no way to tell what age the user is.
But maybe parents don’t trust their kids, right? It’s not like there’s some kind of control setting for parents to monitor their children’s activity on the PS4.
Meanwhile, over the sea in Tumblr, it obviously makes sense to get porn off of Tumblr . After all, that’s what is ruining the user experience. On a website that itself describes, in it’s own words, “is also a place to speak freely about topics like art, sex positivity, your relationships, your sexuality, and your personal journey”, it’s very important to disallow things like sexual art of consenting adults by consenting adults.
Now, I’m not going to get on a soapbox and say things like “sex happens, and to pretend otherwise is a deluded fantasy on the part of a curator”. This isn’t that type of rant. Instead, I’m going to appeal to a slightly more rational side of the internet. And I’m going to do so with a story:
When I was 12, if I wanted something, I would ask my mom. 9/10 times, she’d say no.
Now that I’m 25, when I want something, I buy it.
People without credit cards make for crappy customers. Don’t piss off the ones who are actually paying to keep your service aloft.
Adults have just as much of a right to be on the internet as children do. I’m not saying show children anime tiddies, of course not. I’m saying, to Sony, as the people in charge of curating your market and with tools to disallow minors access to certain features of their own service: Use your tools to disallow minors access to features of your goddamn service. It’s not hard. If you don’t want little kids to see Kasumi’s tits maybe don’t put her on the splash page for the PSN store. In fact, if you wanted to go the extra mile, simply make the “adult” section of PSN just disappear from any PSN account under 18.
As for Tumblr, get off your high horse. Tumblr’s only made any money because it’s had a steady stream of artists (and yes, this includes the sex workers) drawing traffic to your site. You can’t keep your reputation as “a safe space” while also shooting all the vulnerable groups in the goddamn head. If you have a child pornography problem (which it does), deal with the child pornography. Remove the sex bots. Attacking your user base for what is by all metrics a failure to run your own website then claim you were “protecting the community” is hypocritical.
Guess what? If the adults decide to move consoles for one with more lax censorship rules (which is right now literally every other console including the Nintendo Switch), they’re probably taking the kids with them. Just like with the Fortnite issue, word’s going to get around that “maybe you shouldn’t get a PlayStation, I’ve heard the games are better on Xbox”.
Also, you’ve got a sex bot problem, please fix that.
Guess what? Once the artists go, your website is dead. Sure, at first it may seem like the Gif makers will keep you afloat, but for how long? This isn’t a threat, it’s a reality- by some miracle artists still prefer to use your platform to engage with fans. But you’ve just shown the artists the door. Do you really think the fans are going to choose a buggy website full of sex bots with a shitty mobile app instead of charming, funny people who draw Sheith art all day?
All in all both companies need to learn that their pedigree only exists for as long as they remain in the users good standing. Sony has a history of backing down when pressured enough, just look at the previously-unimplementable cross-play in Fortnite. Hopefully the power of horny weebs will work its magic.
As for Tumblr, I highly doubt it. This is an incredibly regressive move that they seem dedicated to let happen, all because they couldn’t be arsed to actually fix problematic content.