Is Your Favorite Social Media Platform Planning to Expand Into Adult Content?

With its reduced staff pool, X is facing various moderation challenges, one of them being child protection. X CEO Linda Yaccarino is set to appear before Congress next week to discuss the platform’s efforts to combat child sexual exploitation (CSE) material. In response to this concern, X has announced the establishment of a new “Trust and Safety center of excellence” in Texas. The aim of this new center is to improve X’s responsiveness in addressing CSE and other harmful elements. As part of this initiative, X plans to hire 100 full-time content moderators who will focus on fighting material related to child sexual exploitation while also enforcing the platform’s other rules against hate speech and violent posts.

The move to address CSE and enhance child protection is undoubtedly important and should be a priority. However, there may be another motive at play. In 2022, Twitter explored the possibility of allowing adult content creators to sell subscriptions within the app, tapping into the self-made content market valued at $2.5 billion. X, already hosting a substantial amount of adult content, could see this as an opportunity to monetize it further rather than turning a blind eye. Twitter’s plan was ultimately derailed because the company could not safely and responsibly police harmful sexual content, particularly with regards to child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity.

Considering X’s declining ad revenue and the hesitation of big-name advertisers to invest in the platform, it is possible that X may be reevaluating the idea of expanding into adult content subscriptions. Recent developments, such as the partnership with BetMGM to display gambling odds and positioning itself as a “video first platform,” indicate a potential shift towards becoming an “everything app” according to Elon Musk’s vision. An everything app would logically incorporate adult content, and X might be exploring this avenue as a new monetization opportunity. Although assigning a new team to police CSE violations would come at an additional cost, X could potentially offset this expense by enabling adult content creators to reach a larger audience.

X’s financial situation necessitates the exploration of new revenue streams. Despite significant cost-cutting measures implemented by Elon Musk, X is still unlikely to break even, let alone generate profit. The platform’s main source of ad income remains significantly lower than previous levels, and Musk’s purchase of the app has burdened it with a loan debt of approximately $1.5 billion per year. Appeasing advertisers and regulators is crucial, but CSE may not be the sole factor deterring advertisers from X. The announcement by X that users between the ages of 13-17 account for less than 1% of its U.S daily users suggests that something else is driving advertisers away.

Is X Preparing for Another Push?

Speculation aside, it is evident that X is preparing for a significant initiative. Given X’s commitment to freedom of speech and its need for increased revenue, it would not be surprising if the platform revisited its plan to expand into adult content. However, the specifics of X’s actual strategy remain known only to those within the company.

While X’s efforts to combat child sexual exploitation and enhance trust and safety are commendable, there may be ulterior motives at play. The combination of declining ad revenue and the potential profitability of adult content subscriptions could be driving X’s exploration of this controversial path. As X seeks new pathways to build its business and appease advertisers, it is essential for the platform to balance revenue generation with the responsibility of maintaining a safe and secure environment for all users.

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