Our article with Jenny Sundén, Katrin Tiidenberg and Maria Vihlman, titled “About Sex, Open-Mindedness, and Cinnamon Buns: Exploring Sexual Social Media“, is just out (on OA) with Social Media + Society. It’s the second joint article coming out from our collaborative project on local sexual platforms, with more to come.
And here’s the abstract: General purpose social media platforms—often incited by American legislation—increasingly exclude sex from acceptable forms of sociality in the abstract name of user safety. This article analyzes interview data (four developer interviews and 56 user interviews) from three North European sexual platforms (Darkside, Alastonsuomi, and Libertine.Center) to explore what follows from including sexual sites in definitions and analyses of social media and, by extension, in including sex in definitions of “the social” itself. We found that instead of context collapse, the users and developers of the studied sites operate with what we call context promiscuity, blending boundaries, but maintaining their structural integrity. This allows for a particular silosociality to emerge based on experiences of safety, risk, and consent. Building on this, we propose thinking of sexual expression as something not contained by, but put in motion across platforms, user cultures, content policies, and sexual norms. Rather than framing sexual social media exchanges in terms of their perceived risks and harms, we would do well to also inquire after the risks and harms involved in ousting sex from networked forms of sociality. Deplatforming of sex truncates our ways of understanding what interests, forces, and attachments drive our sociality. Yet, when analyzing social media as if the socio-sexual matters, platforms designed to support sexual displays and connections become vital nodal points in social media ecologies.