My Thoughts on the FOSTA/SESTA Act

A few days ago, the US Senate passed the FOSTA/SESTA bill. SESTA stands for the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act while FOSTA stands for the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.

Because of the bill, Craigslist immediately took down their Personals section, Reddit shut down darknetmarkets, Google has apparently deleted porn from Drive, and Amazon removed the Erotica bestseller rankings from its store.
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You may be wondering, wait, what does Erotica have to do with an online sex trafficking bill?

I don’t know but because Amazon ends up being an online platform and the bill will make it possible to penalize online providers that enable sex trafficking to occur, that’s why Amazon is doing what it’s doing…? Or is it just one big coincidence?

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This new change has had authors scrambling, and not just erotica writers, but those who write romance because it seems that a few who don’t write erotica or have erotic content in their books have been affected, too. Not having a store ranking means it’s no longer visible in the overall store but readers looking for erotica content can still search for it—unlike a book that’s been “dungeoned” where you can’t even find it in search results. Yep, Amazon has a dungeon where certain books are sent to die!

Does Amazon’s new system mean that erotica is dead?

Considering that my post about writing erotica is the most popular on my blog, well, I’d like to think not (yet — just kidding). Erotica books are still selling on Amazon, only now their listing has been removed from the main store pages much like Walmart moving Cosmopolitan magazines away from the checkout racks and putting them into the magazine aisle.

What does this mean for my naughty pen name? Is it worth it to keep it?

I don’t know the answer to that yet but I do love writing under my naughty pen. It’s more liberating and I wish I could share it here but I can’t. But because it’s now grown from the original 8k word erotica short to a 50k word erotic novel that has yet to be continued until it’s happily ever after, I have the option of migrating it to my main name after I “clean it up” a bit or keep it under the naughty pen’s stable and leave it as raunchy as it is.

I do like the second option better.

But with Amazon’s latest move and Google’s deletion of porn content from Drive, this has got me thinking about personal blogs.

  • Will WordPress, Blogger and similar online providers police content, too?
  • Will they create a separate category like Amazon has done?
  • Will they shut down what they consider pornographic?
  • And who considers what to be pornographic? A bot? A human behind a terminal going through all the blogs (highly unlikely)?

The questions are endless and I guess time will tell. What do you think?

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Screenshot courtesy Melody Kush (from Motherboard.vice.com)

Edited to ADD the image below from Radish Fiction, an app that delivers serials and charges per chapter.

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At this point, I don’t think online erotic content will last long 😦

20 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the FOSTA/SESTA Act

  1. Wow! I didn’t know that Amazon did that, and honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it. I never considered Erotica to be a form of sex trafficking, so we’ll see what happens. I definitely don’t think Erotica is dead or dying, as readers still want those stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think everyone will be covering their bases now because this new bill is not just aimed at sex traffickers but at shutting down internet providers. And that’s really the main thing here.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, and I wonder how this will affect the publishing industry. You still have books like 50 Shades of Grey and After getting published. Not to mention that “Chasing Red,” a book mostly about sex, is on Wattpad still and now fully published.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Radish just sent out an email saying they’re deleting erotica shorts,one shots, smut/PWP (I don’t even know what that means), and “any story with explicit, graphic, or overtly erotic titles, covers, summaries, or use-added tags/themes.” Yikes! Wattpad’s After Dark app will be next and Wattpad itself.

        Like

      3. I don’t think it’s dying but it’s certainly scaring authors from writing what they want to write. But at the same time, erotica readers will know how to find their books. It’s the other authors who don’t write erotica who get affected because of some bot picking their books apart.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah…and I’m working on a writing website now for mature stories, so I need to consult with a lawyer and see how this affects me. I also have a story I’m querying this year with some naughty bits, so now I have to think about that. Things are such a mess these days!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You should be fine with your stories. My naughty pen is affected because from book 1 onwards, it’s got sex, lots of it, so I’m not going to pretend it’s not erotica and try to get it into erotic romance. Maybe after I make the scenes tamer because there is a lot of plot in it and it’s a full blown novel that’s broken up into parts. My main name, this one, isn’t affected. I kept a lot of my scenes pretty tame compared to what I see that pass for erotic romance these days. I also only write less than 4% sex in my stories. The rest of it is angst LOL

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      6. That’s good, but I’m still a little concerned. My story was mainly about sex in the 18th century, so prostitution. Who knows what will happen with it. As for your main stories, I’m glad to hear they aren’t affected. I still feel bad for the Erotica writers out there. In this age of sensitive, I feel like soon us writers won’t be able to write anything against the norm.

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    2. Grey actually got de-ranked from the store but it’s been ranked again after they moved its category to something other than erotica. But that’s a trad publisher for you. Indie authors don’t have that power.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it certainly is and it’s hitting so many unintended (or really probably intended) people in the process. The brush they painted that bill with is just too broad but it says one thing to internet providers, that they’re liable for their users’ actions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t see how erotica comes under sex trafficking, that’s a bit ridiculous. If they want to target sex trafficking, maybe instead of targeting innocent writers actually target it where it’s actually needed? Like resources to combat sex trafficking on the dark web for instance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There won’t be any resources for victims anymore, not the way the act is written. Everything with Amazon is still a guess but I’ve received notices about updated terms of service from Microsoft and they include the following wording: “iv. Don’t publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity)” which is so broad as far as nudity, pornography and offensive language is concerned.

      The same with other services and apps that feature stories. They’ve asked writers to clean up the metadata, graphic, and titles. Not so much the content, they say, but still, they are removing certain sections that fall under erotica or erotic stories.

      Liked by 1 person

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