Elon Musk's X tests 'adult content' label for X-rated Communities

Unlike most social media companies, Elon Musk‘s X does allow users to publish adult content. This wasn’t a new policy instituted by Musk either. Even under the old, then-Twitter leadership, X-rated content was permitted. Twitter, or X as it’s now called, has long-been the mainstream social media service of choice for those who work in the adult industry or just like posting adult content.

New screenshots uncovered by developers who track changes within mobile apps show that X is apparently planning to require users who create groups on X, called Communities, to label their community as “adult content” or “NSFW.”

According to Bloomberg, X is testing the adult labeling feature out now.

Communities that feature adult content will be required to be labeled as “adult content” by the group’s administrators, or the adult content can be automatically removed by X.

“You must enable this setting if your community contains adult-sensitive content,” reads the rules for this Communities setting. “Omitting this will result in automatic filtering of all adult-sensitive content within your community.”

Communities has been a feature on X since its Twitter days, first launching in 2021. The feature allows users to create discussion groups around a specific topic or niche that other Twitter users can join. Users then post in those communities just like they normally post on the platform, but those posts only exist within those communities instead of on the users’ and platform’s public feeds. 

The Communities feature never really took off. However, Musk has attempted to reinvigorate the feature in recent months. A Communities tab has been added to the main sidebar menu on X, and the platform lets users pin Communities to their profile page to promote the groups. The official X account for Communities, @HiCommunities, also posted for the first time since Oct. 2022 just this month.

X and X-rated content

X has struggled with how to handle porn and other adult content on its platform. 

At one time before Musk acquired the company, then-Twitter was reportedly looking into monetizing adult content with a feature that would compete with the adult content creator subscription service OnlyFans. However, as The Verge reported, the company found that it did not have the resources to moderate, police, or “accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity at scale.” As a result, those plans were scrapped.

Musk’s platform already blocks advertising partners’ ads from showing up on adult content as most mainstream companies do not want to associate with X-rated content, making the content non-monetizable on X itself.

However, outright removing adult content from the platform could backfire as the social media platform Tumblr found out years ago. 

In 2018, Tumblr banned adult content after building a community that came to expect that type of content on the platform. In just a few months, Tumblr lost 30 percent of its traffic as well as a chunk of its user base. Tumblr would later reverse that decision, but the platform has yet to ever fully recover from banning adult content.

Is X making this “adult content” labeling feature in order to further build out the struggling Communities feature? Or is the label being built on top of a little-used feature in order to possibly test out how instituting the label across the platform would work out? We’ll continue to monitor how the “adult content” label on X evolves.


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