X has formally revised its rules to explicitly allow adult and graphic content on its platform. This change was announced over the weekend, codifies a practice that has long existed unofficially.

X Updates Policies to Formally Allow Adult Content

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X has added specific clauses to its rules, formally allowing users to post consensually produced adult and graphic content.

The new rules state that users can share such content as long as it is labeled. This formalization includes AI-generated videos and images.

Prior to Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform in 2022, adult content was unofficially permitted. Although the rules did not outright ban adult content, there was no official policy in place.

About 13% of posts on the platform in 2022 contained adult content, according to a Reuters report that cited internal company documents. This percentage has increased since then.

Users must mark posts containing adult content with a content warning. Posts not marked as containing sensitive media can be reported and may lead to adjustments in the user’s account settings by X.

The platform restricts visibility of adult content for users under 18 or those who haven’t provided their birth date.

X’s policy addresses the belief in adult autonomy to create and engage with content reflecting their beliefs and experiences including sexuality.

The platform plans to balance this freedom by ensuring adult content is not exposed to minors or unwilling viewers.

There are restrictions on content promoting exploitation, nonconsensual acts, objectification, sexualization of minors and obscene behaviors.

X continues to prohibit excessively gory content and depictions of sexual violence. The platform does not allow adult content in highly visible areas such as profile photos or banners.

This policy change opens new opportunities for creators who produce adult content with X’s post-Musk marketing strategy.

X appears to be positioning itself as a more inclusive platform for adult content creators contrasting with competitors like Meta, TikTok, and YouTube, which have stricter guidelines on nudity and sexual content.

The formal allowance of adult content will likely attract increased regulatory attention. X must navigate challenges related to non-consensual pornography and child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Previous issues have seen X fined in countries like Australia and receiving notices from India to remove CSAM.

There is potential for X to develop monetized services around adult content, possibly positioning itself as a competitor to platforms like OnlyFans.

By supporting adult content creators, X could tap into new revenue streams especially given the percentage of adult content on the platform.

Brooke Erin Duffy, Associate Professor of Communication at Cornell University, commented on X’s strategy. “The platform’s move to allow ‘adult content’ dovetails well with the company’s post-Musk marketing strategy. X is unapologetically provocative and has sought to distinguish itself from ‘brand safe’ competitors.”

Users who regularly post adult content are encouraged to adjust their media settings to ensure all images and videos are behind a content warning.

This setting can be found under “Privacy and safety > Your posts,” enabling the option to mark media as sensitive.

Users can report unmarked adult content using the app’s reporting features. X has stated that users can appeal decisions if they believe a mistake has been made.

The policy introduces an opt-in system to ensure that adult content is not accessible to users under 18 or those who do not opt to view it.

Users must mark their posts as adult content to trigger a content warning which will restrict access to those who have not indicated they wish to see such material.

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Users posting adult content are required to adjust their media settings so that images and videos are put behind a content warning.

X has stated that it will detect if users fail to appropriately label their posts and will adjust account settings accordingly.

Users under 18 or those without a birthdate in their profile will be unable to view adult content. This is part of X’s effort to shield minors from explicit material.

Similar rules apply to violent content including speech or media that threatens, incites, glorifies, or expresses a desire for violence or harm. These posts must also be marked appropriately to restrict access.

The changes comes during increasing pressure from regulators worldwide. Australia’s online safety regulator, Julie Inman Grant has been vocal about the need for tech giants to comply with their own policies on adult content.

Research from the UK children’s commissioner in January 2023 found that 41% of teenagers aged 16 to 18 reported seeing pornography on X compared to 37% who saw it on adult sites.

There are allegations that companies like Apple and Google have financial incentives to keep apps like X and Reddit on their platforms despite hosting adult content as they collect a 30% commission on transactions within these apps.

Under Apple’s developer guidelines apps with user-generated, primarily pornographic content may be removed.

Apps that hide adult content by default, as X’s new policy ensures0 may still be displayed keeping X in compliance with these guidelines.

X is currently engaged in a legal dispute with the Australian eSafety commissioner over violent content. The case involves 65 tweets containing a video of a stabbing attack on a Sydney bishop in April, which the eSafety commissioner has ordered X to remove.

X has restricted access to these tweets in Australia, but eSafety argues that the company should prevent access via VPN connections as well.

X has allowed the posting of adult content, a policy that pre-dates Musk’s acquisition of the platform in October 2022. Sex workers have long used X to promote their work via subscription services like OnlyFans.

X has reduced moderation, reinstating previously banned accounts including those of former U.S. President Donald Trump and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

While Musk claims to uphold free speech, some accuse him of fostering an environment conducive to hate speech and misinformation.

Unlike Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube, X has never explicitly banned nudity and sexualized content. This policy change further distinguishes X from these platforms which have stricter guidelines on adult material.

The move to allow adult content is also seen as an effort to generate additional revenue amidst a decline in advertising income.

The New York Times reported that X could lose up to $75 million in 2023 due to advertisers leaving the platform.

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