On January 28th, I received an email from a popular payment vehicle stating that I had been flagged as a “prohibited use case”. I was told that I should look elsewhere for a payment provider and that any payments sent to or from my email would be automatically cancelled. It closed with, “Thank you for your understanding.”
The email was brief and offered no explanation as to how they identified me as in violation of their terms. And, as I came to see the next day, it was received by many other people who also worked in the adult industry, and who also didn’t get an explanation. I emailed the company to ask, but have yet to receive a reply. Having been banned by another popular payment app, who also did not provide any reason, nor a response to how I had violated their terms, I don’t expect to ever receive one.
Was I frustrated? Of course. Surprised? Nope. When it comes to ways that those of us in adult work send or receive money (gifts or otherwise), we are used to the ways in which we are initially welcomed but later banned.
In the case of this site, I didn’t even know this until I did some research and found this:
This is a pattern, actually.
People in the adult industry are a great way to get your business off the ground. Gain a following. Make some money. I mean, sex work is a multi-billion dollar industry. Sex sells, right? Get us on there posting sexy photos and videos and writing and you’re guaranteed to attract users.
We have been included in popular platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, and in many ways sexy content has been the driving force of these interfaces, or a regular part of it, at least. However, once the company seems to achieve its user goals or generates some impressive revenue growth reports or something, we’re booted off, or heavily censored. (Twitter is one we’re all just waiting to see if we’ll be booted from. We’ve already experienced censorship in the form of “shadowbanning” and recent concerns that Twitter may be engineering a way to soft ban adult content through tweet reporting.)
So, here we are. Again. Banned from another platform. This time one it’s one we use for sending money.
But why can’t we use a regular credit card processor, or something like PayPal or Cash or Google Pay, like other businesses do? Because most of them, and their affiliates, won’t do business with us. Even if the work we’re doing is legal, we’re considered too “high risk”. Whether that’s true or whether it’s an issue of pearl-clutching, the result has been the same: denial of service.
Why not lie about what we’re being paid for? Some people do. But it often comes with a great risk. If discovered, you could potentially be prosecuted for money laundering. (Would you want to take the risk of a felony charge, hefty fine, and possible prison time? For accepting a $300 payment?) In some cases, they have not only shut down the accounts of adult workers, but confiscated their money. So, we routinely have to find ways to work around a continually changing landscape of barriers.
This payment site was one quick and easy way for us to send and receive cash. But no more. It’s now become the latest site who seemed to use us to meet their goals…before suddenly banning us without warning.
Of course, FOSTA/SESTA could be a factor in this decision. Sites don’t want to be accused of “facilitating (sex) trafficking”, which is somehow considered the same thing as consensual commercial sex, so they naturally drop us like a hot potato. If this is the reason, then why did they wait almost 2 years after it having been signed into law to cut the rug out from under us?
Regardless of the reason, we now have to scramble to find solutions. As we do this, be prepared for:
- being asked to send gifts to us in a different way
- changes in how you may be vetted
- being asked to send payment for goods or services in a different way
- increases in prices
Why changes in vetting? Some providers use payments as a vetting method. If that provider is no longer able to accept a payment in a way that works with her safety model, she may need to change how she vets you.
Why an increase in price? Most sites that specifically cater to the adult industry take a larger and significant portion of the payments than other sites geared toward the general public. This is because of the “high risk” I mentioned. One of these high risks is because we’re supposedly more likely to have chargebacks.
Here’s an example: a guy gets horny, buys a porn clip, jacks off to it, and then decides he’s going to be a prick and ask for his money back. Depending on the policies and resources of the site he bought the clip from, the policies of the card he used to purchase it, and the reasons he gave for asking for a refund, this is an added expense for processors to deal with and it contributes to the obstacles we face when doing this work. Guess who assumes the economic burden of fraudsters and thieves? Not the people committing the actual crimes, but those of us providing the goods.
So, in order to maintain necessary income levels, please don’t be alarmed if you notice some of us raising our tributes as we figure how run our businesses in a way that is friendly to modern-day needs of convenience and immediacy within a culture that is hostile to adult entertainers.
When these changes occur they not only require adjustments on our part but yours as well. When we lose access to safety and convenience, you lose access to it, too. Know that you may need to work with us and adhere to new ways that ensure that safety. Understand that some of us may not be able to receive payment as quickly as before which may result in delays from the time you send payment to the time we provide a good or service. Accept that you may need to plan ahead more often. And, please, don’t blame us for it.
(Don’t like this? Tell your lawmakers to Decriminalize Sex Work.)
[Image © Paul Campbell, 147222511]