Aurora Snow has dedicated her column on The Daily Beast to the problem of account theft on social media platforms. Even porn stars with several hundred thousand followers are not adequately supported in the event of attacks by hackers. This is a major problem for the performers who earn a large part of their income through direct contact with their fans.
The importance of social media for porn actors has steadily increased. Nowadays they have become perhaps the most important channel for building up and maintaining a fan base of their own, but also for monetizing their own work and brand name. Aurora Snow points out that a considerable part of the working time of porn actors and performers in adult entertainment is spent on social media work and observes solemnly: »Whether piracy or tube sites are to blame, one thing’s clear: there’s not much money for performers following a traditional porn star path. To be successful, one must build a loyal following—engaging fans via social media to sell products, cam shows, site subscriptions, and strip club tour dates.«
Instagram seems to be particularly rewarding for porn stars. Many performers report that they achieve a higher conversion rate via the platform than via other social media sites. And this in spite of Instagram’s relatively harsh guidelines on nudity. Posts published via Instagram achieve 10 times more user interaction than on Facebook, 54 times more than on Pinterest and as much as 84 times more than on Twitter.
That’s why Instagram has become an important source of revenue for many performers. And so it is not surprising that a banned or suspended account can result in severe losses. However, if performers can no longer access their account even though they have followed the guidelines, simply because their account has been hacked, the whole thing becomes more than just a nuisance. The actors then depend on the help from this social media giant. According to Aurora Snow, however, even with accounts with more than 100,000 followers this happens extremely slowly.
Aurora Snow spoke to Alana Luv, whose Instagram account was hacked twice. The hacking caused the actress considerable losses: »I couldn’t get into my account for a month. I was locked out and this is my business. This is how I interact with my fans, share what’s happening, and post pictures. Social media is everything right now. I tried contacting Instagram and they were not responsive at all« Instagram only became active after Luv had engaged a lawyer friend.
The porn actress Raven Hart had a similar experience after a hacker took control of her Instagram account. After several unanswered support requests sent to Instagram, Hart just gave up. She set up a new account and tried to win back her followers. »I really cannot trust their site anymore. I’d heard things about them and now I’ve seen it. I’m so careful too. I make sure everything I post is safe for Instagram.«
Even threatening behavior and blackmail attempts by the hackers have not been met with support from Instagram. Carmen Valentina reports that a hacker blackmailed her, and when she did not agree to the terms, the hacker not only deleted all her content but published her private phone number to 180,000 followers. Valentina too had to learn that Instagram appeared uninterested in the security of its users: »I messaged Instagram but never heard back. The only thing I got was a confirmation email with the reference number for the complaint I filed. My old account had about 180,000 followers, so it really sucked to start all over, but I’d rather start over then give in to some ass who wants to make my life miserable.« Valentina’s new account already has 100,000 followers, but the losses can hardly be quantified.
Instagram itself does not want to comment on these cases. At The Daily Beast’s request, a generic reply was sent stating that the company would review the activity concerning the accounts in question. However, the question arises as to whether all accounts are treated in this way or only those related to the porn industry. This would then be a particularly perfidious case of discrimination against sex workers, as the company does earn well from the clicks of the performers while not doing anything to protect them.